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WHAT IS HERPETOLOGY?
No, it’s nothing to do with STDs. Herpetology is the study of herpetofauna, that is, reptiles and amphibians. The name is derived from the Greek word, “ἑρπετόν”, herpeton, which refers to the creeping nature of the subjects.
In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the monster was a strange amalgam of human body parts, scavenged from beyond the grave. In many ways, herpetology is that monster. Confused? Let us explain.
When Linnaeus first set out to classify the living world over 200 years ago, amphibians and reptiles were placed together, for understandable reasons.
It was only in the 19th Century that the two groups were separated. While it may be taxonomically irrelevant, the term, “herp” is still used to refer to both reptiles and amphibians, mainly out of convenience. For the more pedantic among us, the study of amphibians alone is known as “Batrachology”. (Don’t worry batrachologists…
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