Emmett Reid Dunn (November 21, 1894 – February 13, 1956) was an American herpetologist and educator noted for his work in Panama and for studies of salamanders in the Eastern United States.

Emmett Reid Dunn
BornNovember 21, 1894
DiedFebruary 13, 1956
Alma materHaverford College, Harvard University
Scientific career
InstitutionsAcademy of Natural Sciences, American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology

Early life and education edit

Emmett Reid Dunn was born on November 21, 1894, in Arlington, Virginia, to Mary Reid Dunn and Emmett Clark Dunn, a civil engineer.[1] He spent much of his childhood at a family farm near the James River in Nelson County.[2] Dunn attended Haverford College in Philadelphia, receiving his B.A. and M.A. in 1915 and 1916, respectively.[3] His childhood connection to Arlington allowed him to connect with his first professional mentor, Leonhard Stejneger, the Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Smithsonian Institution. In 1913, Stejneger suggested that Dunn pursue the study of salamanders. Dunn was also heavily influenced by Henry Sherring Pratt, his professor at Haverford.[4] He would go on to receive his PhD from Harvard University in 1921.[2]

Career edit

In 1915, Dunn began publishing scientific papers on snakes and herpetofauna, based on field research he conducted as a teenager in Midway Mills, Virginia.[2] After receiving his M.A. from Haverford in 1916, Dunn conducted field research on plethodontid salamanders and other amphibians in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, sponsored by Mary Dickerson, the Curator of Herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History.[2][4] That same year, Dunn began teaching at Smith College in the Zoology Department. He briefly left the position from 1917 to 1918 to serve as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in World War I, though he never saw combat.[1][2] He returned to Smith in 1918, where he remained until 1928.[2] While at Smith, Dunn worked closely with H.M. Parshley, Harris Hawthorne Wilder, and Thomas Barbour on his salamander research.[4] He also served as the editor of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, from 1924 to 1929.[5] In 1926, he published The Salamanders of the Family Plethodontidae, the most detailed analysis of amphibians published at the time.[2] Dunn resigned from his position as Assistant Professor at Smith in 1928 after receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship, which funded research trips to European museums and tropical climates, including Panama, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, and Costa Rica.[6][2]

In 1929, he began teaching in the Biology and Zoology departments at his alma mater, Haverford College, where he remained until his death in 1956.[2][6] In 1930, he married Alta Merle Taylor, a former Physical Education instructor at Smith College.[7][4] Taylor accompanied Dunn on several expeditions and often assisted with his research at Haverford and other institutions.[6] Dunn's proximity to Philadelphia led him to become the Honorary Curator of Reptiles at the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1937, another position that he held until his death. At the academy, Dunn, along with his wife, worked extensively with specimens collected by Edward Drinker Cope, which had fallen into disarray without a dedicated herpetology staff.[4][6] From 1930 to 1931, he served as the president of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.[1]

In 1944, Dunn conducted additional field work in South America through the Nelson Rockefeller Committee's Inter-American Cultural Exchange Program.[1] He completed a census of snakes in Panama with the assistance of Herbert C. Clark and the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Tropical and Preventative Medicine.[6] He was also affiliated with research at the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the United States National Museum.[6] Throughout his career, he discovered roughly forty new species of frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, and turtles, and has been noted for his significant contributions to the classification and phylogeny of salamanders.[1]

Dunn died on February 13, 1956, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.[1]

Eponyms edit

A number of reptiles were named in honor of Dunn, both species (binomials)[8] and subspecies (trinomials), including the following.



This author abbreviation is not to be confused with Dunn in botany, where it refers to Stephen Troyte Dunn.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f "The National cyclopædia of American biography : being the history of the United States as illustrated in the lives of the founders, builders, and defenders ... v.43". HathiTrust. Retrieved 2023-11-20.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mitchell, Joseph C. (2013). "Emmett Reid Dunn and the Early History of Herpetology in Virginia" (PDF). Banisteria. 41: 27–39 – via Virginia Natural History Society.
  3. ^ "Resolution of Respect: Emmett Reid Dunn" (PDF). Bulletin of the Ecological Society of American. 37 (3): 87–88. September 1956 – via JSTOR.
  4. ^ a b c d e Schmidt, Karl P. (1957). "Emmett Reid Dunn, 1894-1956". Copeia. 1957 (2): 75–77. ISSN 0045-8511.
  5. ^ "Dunn, Emmett Reid (United States 1894-1956)". Western Kentucky University. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Conant, Roger (1956). "E. R. Dunn, Herpetologis". Science. 123 (3205): 975–975. ISSN 0036-8075.
  7. ^ "Official Circulars, Smith College". 1927. Retrieved November 20, 2023.
  8. ^ 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. ("Dunn", pp. 77-78).

External links edit