George Albert Boulenger

George Albert Boulenger FRS[1] (19 October 1858 – 23 November 1937) was a Belgian-British zoologist who described and gave scientific names to over 2,000 new animal species, chiefly fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Boulenger was also an active botanist during the last 30 years of his life, especially in the study of roses.[2]

George Albert Boulenger

Boulenger George 1858-1937
Born19 October 1858
Died23 November 1937 (aged 79)
Alma materFree University of Brussels
Scientific career


Boulenger was born in Brussels, Belgium, the only son of Gustave Boulenger, a Belgian public notary, and Juliette Piérart de Valenciennes. He graduated in 1876 from the Free University of Brussels with a degree in natural sciences, and worked for a while at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, as an assistant naturalist studying amphibians, reptiles, and fishes. He also made frequent visits during this time to the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris and the British Museum in London.

In 1880, he was invited to work at the Natural History Museum, then a department of the British Museum, by Dr. Albert C. L. G. Günther and assigned to the task of cataloguing the amphibians in the collection. His position in the British Museum meant that he had to be a civil servant of the British Empire, so became a naturalized British subject. In 1882, he became a first-class assistant in the Department of Zoology and remained in that position until his retirement in 1920.

After his retirement from the British Museum, Boulenger studied roses and published 34 papers on botanical subjects and two volumes on the roses of Europe. He died in Saint Malo, France.

According to biographical accounts, he was incredibly methodical and had an amazing memory that enabled him to remember every specimen and scientific name he ever saw. He also had extraordinary powers of writing, seldom made a second draft of anything he wrote, and his manuscripts showed but few corrections before going to the publisher.

Boulenger also played the violin, could speak French, German, and English apart from reading Spanish, Italian and a bit of Russian. As a zoologist, he also had a working knowledge of both Greek and Latin.

By 1921, Boulenger had published 875 papers[1] totaling more than 5,000 pages, as well as 19 monographs on fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. The list of his publications and its index of species covers 77 printed pages.

He described 1,096 species of fish, 556 species of amphibians, and 872 species of reptiles. He was famous for his monographs on amphibians, lizards and other reptiles, and fishes for example his monographs on the fishes of Africa.

He was a member of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and was elected its first honorary member in 1935. In 1937, Belgium conferred on him the Order of Leopold, the highest honor awarded to a civilian.

His son, Edward George Boulenger (1888-1946), was also a zoologist.

Work on cave-dwelling fish

In 1897, King Leopold II of Belgium started to recruit naturalists to help create the Congo museum. Boulenger was named chairman for this commission.

His main discovery in 1921 was a strange fish from the Congo. It was eyeless and lacked pigmentation. He recognized it as new and unrelated to any extant epigean (eyed, surface) species of Africa. He wrote a brief paper describing this new species of cave fish, the first ever described from Africa. He called it Caecobarbus geertsii, from caeco = blind, barbus = barb, and geertsii, honoring a mysterious person, M. Geerts, who provided him with the specimen. Today, it is known as the Congo or African blind barb.



Boulenger described hundreds of reptile taxa; 587 species described by him are still recognised today. He also described many amphibians and fishes.

These 26 reptile species, recognised today, bear George Boulenger's name in the specific name, as boulengeri, boulengerianus, boulengerii, or georgeboulengeri :[4][5]

Snakes Of Europe Cover
Cover of the book The Snakes Of Europe

In the above list, a binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than the genus to which it is currently assigned.

The water cobra genus Boulengerina was named for G.A. Boulenger, but it is now treated as a subgenus of Naja containing four species: Naja annulata (water cobra), Naja christyi (Congo water cobra), Naja melanoleuca (forest cobra), and Naja multifasciatus (burrowing cobra).[6]


Books written by George Albert Boulenger include:

  • Catalogue of the Batrachia Salientia s. Ecaudata in the Collection of the British Museum. (1882).
  • Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. (1885, 1885, 1887). Three volumes.
  • Catalogue of the Chelonians, Rhynchocephalians, and Crocodiles in the British Museum (Natural History). New Edition. (1889).
  • The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. (1890).
  • Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). (1893, 1894, 1896). Three volumes.
  • The Tailless Batrachians of Europe. (1897).
  • The Snakes Of Europe. (1913).


  1. ^ a b Watson DMS (1940). "George Albert Boulenger. 1858-1937". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 3 (8): 13–26. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1940.0002. JSTOR 768868.
  2. ^ Stafleu FA, Cowan RS (1976). Taxonomic literature: a selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, 2nd edition. 1: A–G. Utrecht: Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema. p. 384. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  3. ^ Index biographique des membres et associés de l'Académie royale de Belgique (1769-2005). p. 36.
  4. ^ "boulengeri ". The Reptile Database.
  5. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Boulenger", pp. 33-35).
  6. ^ Wallach V, Wüster W, Broadley D (2009). "In praise of subgenera: taxonomic status of cobras of the genus Naja Laurenti (Serpentes: Elapidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 2236: 26–36.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ IPNI.  Boulenger.

External links

Amolops larutensis

Amolops larutensis (common names: Larut sucker frog, Larut Hill cascade frog, southern pad-discked frog) is a species of frog in the family Ranidae that is found in the Malay Peninsula from southernmost Thailand to Malaysia; records further north probably represent A. panhai.

Amolops ricketti

Amolops ricketti (Chinese sucker frog or South China torrent frog) is a species of frog in the family Ranidae that is found in southern and eastern China and northern and central montane Vietnam.George Albert Boulenger described Amolops ricketti based on two specimens collected by Irish ornithologist John D. La Touche in Guadun village in Wuyishan, Fujian, China. The specific name honours Mr. C. B. Rickett, a British ornithologist active in China.Amolops ricketti is a small frog, males measuring about 56 mm (2.2 in) and females about 58 mm (2.3 in) in snout-vent length. Tadpoles are about 36 mm (1.4 in) in length. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and rivers. It is not considered threatened by the IUCN.Antimicrobial peptides that are candidates for developing novel anti-infection agents can be extracted from the skin secretions of Amolops ricketti.


The marsupial frogs are a disputed family (Amphignathodontidae) in the order Anura. When treated as a separate family, it consists of two genera, Gastrotheca and Flectonotus. The frogs are native to Neotropical America (Central and South America). Under the dominant view, they are treated as part of the family of Hemiphractidae.

Boulenger's least gecko

Boulenger's least gecko (Sphaerodactylus scapularis) is a species of lizard in the family Sphaerodactylidae. It is found in Ecuador and Colombia.


The Ceratobatrachidae are a family of frogs found in the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, the Philippines, Palau, Fiji, New Guinea, and the Admiralty, Bismarck, and Solomon Islands.

Desert rain frog

The desert rain frog, web-footed rain frog, or Boulenger's short-headed frog (Breviceps macrops) is a species of frog in the family Brevicipitidae. It is found in Namibia and South Africa. Its natural habitat is the narrow strip of sandy shores between the sea and the sand dunes. It is threatened by habitat loss.


Dissorophidae is an extinct family of medium-sized, temnospondyl amphibians that flourished during the Late Pennsylvanian and early Permian periods in what is now North America and Europe. Despite being amphibians, they seem to be well developed for life on land, with well-developed limbs, solid vertebrae, and a row of armour plates of dermal bone, which both protected the animal and further strengthened the backbone.

A well known genus is Cacops, a squat solid animal from the late Early Permian (Artinskian age) Clear Fork group of Texas, with a relatively huge head, and a row of armor plates along the back. In the similar but slightly larger and more specialised genus, Platyhystrix, whose fossil remains are known from the Cutler Group of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, the armor developed into a sort of ridge or sail.

Not all Dissorophids were squat-bodied big headed animals. Nooxobeia, from the late Artinskian of Oklahoma, was lightly built with long limbs, obviously relying on speed rather than armour plating as a defense against predators.

There are a number of related forms which seem to have been more aquatic, which are known from the Late Permian of Russia and the Early Triassic of Gondwana.

It has been suggested that the Dissorophidae may be close to the ancestry of modern amphibians (Lissamphibia), as it is closely related to another family called Amphibamidae that is often considered ancestral to this group, although it could also be on the tetrapod stem.

Johann Gustav Fischer

Johann Gustav Fischer (1 March 1819, Hamburg – 27 January 1889) was a German herpetologist.

He served as an instructor at the Johanneum in Hamburg, and was associated with the city's Naturhistorisches Museum, working extensively with its herpetological and ichthyological collections. He was the binomial author of numerous herpetological species, and has several species named in his honor:

"Fischer's cat snake" (Toxicodryas pulverulenta), 1856.

"Fischer's chameleon" (Kinyongia fischeri ), described by Anton Reichenow in 1887.

"Fischer's dwarf gecko" (Lygodactylus fischeri ), described by George Albert Boulenger in 1890.

"Fischer’s snail-eating snake" (Sibon fischeri ), described by George Albert Boulenger in 1894.

"Fischer's thick-toed gecko" (Pachydactylus laevigatus), 1888.In the field of ichthyology, he described the genera Sclerocottus (Cottidae) and Gymnelichthys (Zoarcidae).

Leptopelis christyi

Leptopelis christyi, also known as the Christy's tree frog or Christy's forest treefrog, is a species of frog in the family Arthroleptidae. It is known with confidence from eastern and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, southern and western Uganda, and northwestern Tanzania. It is likely to occur in Burundi and Rwanda, possibly ranging further in East Africa. There is an isolated population in Cameroon and Gabon that might represent a distinct species. The specific name christyi honours Dr. Cuthbert Christy, a British army doctor who collected the holotype.

Leptopelis gramineus

Leptopelis gramineus is a species of frog in the family Arthroleptidae. It is endemic to Ethiopia and occurs on the Ethiopian Highlands on both sides of the Great Rift Valley. Common names Badditu forest treefrog and Ethiopian burrowing tree frog have been coined for it.

Leptopelis ragazzii

Leptopelis ragazzii is a species of frog in the family Arthroleptidae. It is endemic to the Ethiopian Highlands on both sides of the Great Rift Valley. Common names Ragazzi's tree frog and Shoa forest treefrog have been coined for it. It is named after Dr. Vincenzo Ragazzi (1856–1929), from the Modena Natural History Society, who explored and collected in Ethiopia.

Leptopelis vannutellii

Leptopelis vannutellii is a species of frog in the family Arthroleptidae. It is endemic to the highlands of southwestern Ethiopia. Common names Vannutelli's tree frog and Dime forest treefrog have been coined for it. It is named after Leonardo Vannutelli, Italian navy officer who joined Vittorio Bottego's second expedition to East Africa.


Mantidactylus is a frog genus in the mantellid subfamily Mantellinae. This genus is restricted to Madagascar. The genus is divided into several subgenera that form monophyletic genetic clusters and are ecologically similar.

Odorrana swinhoana

Odorrana swinhoana is a species of frog in the family Ranidae. It is endemic to Taiwan and widely distributed in hilly areas below 2,000 m (6,600 ft). It is named for Robert Swinhoe, a British naturalist and diplomat. Its common names include Swinhoe's brown frog, Bangkimtsing frog, brown-backed odorous frog, Taiwan odorous frog, and Taiwan sucker frog.


Pachytriton, also known as the paddle-tail newts or Chinese newts, is a genus of salamanders in the family Salamandridae. They are found in southeastern China.


Ptychadena is a genus of frogs in the Ptychadenidae family, the grassland frogs. They are distributed in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as nilotic Egypt. The common names of this genus are ridged frogs and grass frogs.


Pygopodidae (commonly known as legless lizards, snake-lizards, or flap-footed lizards) is a family of squamates with reduced or absent limbs, and are a type of gecko. There are at least 35 species in two subfamilies and eight genera. They have unusually long, slender bodies, giving them a strong resemblance to snakes. Like snakes and most geckos, they have no eyelids, but unlike snakes, they have external ear holes and flat, unforked tongues. They are native to Australia and New Guinea.

Pygopodids have no fore limbs at all, but they do possess vestigial hind limbs in the form of small, flattened flaps. These may have some role in courtship and defensive behaviour, and may even aid in locomotion through vegetation. Some species are insectivorous burrowing animals, but others are adapted to moving through dense spinifex or other vegetation. Like the geckos, pygopodids lay two eggs in each clutch and nest communally. Some nests have been found to have as many as 30 eggs. Also like other geckos, pygopodids have the ability to vocalise - emitting a high-pitched squeak. Snakes are incapable of vocalising.

Pygopodids can hear tones higher than any other reptiles. Individuals in the species Delma pax can respond to a 60-decibel sound with a frequency of 11,100 Hz, more than an octave above the highest note on a standard piano.

Synodontis multipunctatus

Synodontis multipunctatus, also known as the cuckoo catfish, cuckoo squeaker, or multipunk, is a small catfish from Lake Tanganyika, one of the lakes in the Great Rift Valley system in Africa. It is a brood parasite upon mouthbrooding cichlids. This species grows to a length of 27.5 centimetres (10.8 in) TL. This species is a minor component of local commercial fisheries.


Xenotilapia is a genus of cichlids species endemic to Lake Tanganyika in east Africa.The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed 16 Xenotilapia species; one of them is considered "Vulnerable" (Xenotilapia burtoni), the rest are of "Least Concern" or "Data Deficient".

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.