John Romer and the brand new species of amphibians he found in Hong Kong

John Romer found three new species of amphibian in Hong Kong, and all three nonetheless stand as ‘good’ species.

Amolops hongkongensis
From Flickr. Picture by Thomas Brown in 2011

Taking them so as of date of assortment the primary was described as Staurois hongkongensis. Now referred to as Amolops hongkongensis, the Hong Kong Cascade Frog or Hong Kong Torrent Frog, lives alongside mountain streams and lays its eggs on rocks being splashed by the cascading water. Romer discovered the primary specimens in August 1950 on the mountain, Tai Mo Shan. It’s identified to happen over a lot of Hong Kong and there are additionally stories from close by areas. In Hong Kong it’s comparatively frequent however it’s categorised by IUCN as ‘Endangered’. Given his contacts in London I at all times discovered it moderately odd that the outline of the brand new species was with Clifford Hillhouse Pope (1899-1974) of the Chicago Pure Historical past Museum as senior writer. Pope was nicely established as an knowledgeable on the herpetofauna of China together with his guide on amphibians, a companion to his The Reptiles of China nonetheless unpublished. Pope was additionally starting well-known for his semi-popular books. His 1955 guide The Reptile World appeared in British college and public libraries. The paper by Pope and Romer, 1951, appeared in Fieldiana Zoology, a home journal of the museum.

Boulenophrys brachykolos
From Flickr. Picture by Thomas Brown in 2011

A small frog discovered on The Peak, Hong Kong Island in August 1952, was subsequent to be described as a brand new species. Once more the specimen was despatched to Chicago. Though the frog was present in 1952, the paper didn’t seem till 1961. The senior writer this time was one other well-known herpetologist Robert Frederick Inger (1920-2019) who had succeeded Pope in Chicago. Inger wrote the favored Residing Reptiles of the World in 1957 together with his and Pope’s former boss, Karl Patterson Schmidt (18890-1957). Megophrys (now Boulenophrys) brachykolos or Quick-legged Toad additionally happens over the border in Guangdong. It’s categorised as ‘Endangered’.

Romerus romerus
From Flickr. Picture by Thomas Brown in 2011

The third species, the eponymous Romer’s Frog, was additionally found in August 1952—in a cave beside the ocean on the island of Lamma. However as a substitute of Chicago he despatched specimens to the Pure Historical past Museum in London the place in 1953 they had been described and named for Romer, Philautus romeri by Malcolm Arthur Smith (1875-1958) who labored in a voluntary capability on the Museum.

Romer would have identified Smith personally as a result of he was a driving pressure behind the formation of the British Herpetological Society and would have change into its first Secretary had he not bought a job as pest management officer within the Hong Kong authorities. Smith was slated as first President. I’ve written earlier than on Smith who was eager on amphibians and reptiles as a baby however knew the one manner he may pursue that exercise was by incomes a dwelling as a physician. After qualifying at Charing Cross Hospital and apply in London he went off to Bangkok as medical officer to the British Legation. That job was then prolonged to doctor to the royal family of Siam (now Thailand). Throughout his time there he was energetic in pure historical past, gathering specimens and writing accounts of the herpetofauna of south-east Asia. In 1925 on the age of fifty he retired to London the place he was given house on the Pure Historical past Museum. From there till his loss of life he revealed extensively notably on the reptiles of Asia.

Romer’s Frog has carried a succession of generic names. The newest transfer has been to place it together with a number of others species from China into a brand new genus, Romerus. Thus we’ve John commemorated by each genus and species, Romerus romerus. I additionally a lot desire the easy frequent identify to others which have come into use like Romer’s Treefrog and Romer’s Bubble-nest Frog. Romerus romerus can be categorised by IUCN as ‘Endangered’.

I have no idea why he selected to ship specimens the place he did. Did he take recommendation from Smith, for instance, on the place probably the most experience lay? He definitely despatched a snake to a number one knowledgeable in that individual group of snakes when he discovered or obtained the primary specimen in 1966 on the aspect of Tai Mo Shan. The knowledgeable was Edmiund Virgil Malnate (1916-2003) an attention-grabbing character who by occupation was a graphic artist however mixed that work with being a volunteer curator on the Academy of Pure Sciences of Philadelphia. The paper by Malnate and Romer on the prevalence of the Mountain Keelback, Amphiesma (now Hebius) atemporalis, in Hong Kong was revealed in 1969. Till he collaborated with Jean-Paul Risch in debunking the newt that by no means was, his solely co-authors had been Pope, Inger and Malnate.

The Folks

John Romer in Stuttgart, 1977
Clifford H Pope                         Robert F Inger

Anon. 2014. Pope, Clifford H (1899-1974). In Contributions to the Historical past of Herpetology (Quantity 1, revised and expanded), Edited by Kraig Adler, p 94. Society for the Research of Reptiles and Amphibians.

Anon. 2007. Romer, J.D. (1920-1982). In Contributions to the Historical past of Herpetology (Quantity 2), Edited by Kraig Adler, p 212. Society for the Research of Reptiles and Amphibians.

Inger RF, Romer JD. 1961. A brand new pelobatid frog of the genus Megophrys from Hong Kong. Fieldiana—Zoology 39, 533-538

Malnate EV, Romer JD. 1969. A snake new to the fauna of Hong Kong and China: Amphiesma atemporalis (Bourret). Notulae naturae of the Academy of Pure Sciences of Philadelphia  No 424, 1–8.

Pope CH, Romer, JD. 1951 A brand new ranid frog (Staurois) from the Colony of Hongkong. Fieldiana—Zoology 31, 609-6l2.

Smith M. 1953. Description of a brand new species of frog of the genus Philautus, Annals and Journal of Pure Historical past 6, 477-478.

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