Digitizing the Scientific Illustrations from the Herndon G. Dowling Herpetological Collection

Material Description

The materials to be digitized are primarily ink on board illustrations of snake morphology. The drawings to be digitized are part of the body of morphological evidence used by snake systematist Herndon G. Dowling in his life's work revising the classification of the snakes of the world. This is a remarkable collection that can provide a researcher with a unique perspective on the work of this important scientist and in particular the study of snakes. Dowling's research and writings challenged conventional theories of snake evolution and relationships in the late 1990s, and was instrumental in integrating morphology and newer molecular techniques to explain the evolution of snakes over time. Most drawings were created between 1968 and 1993. A large number of the drawings are by Frances Waite Gibson and date from the 1968-1972. Most drawings in the collection can be traced back to a dedicated specimen, and these specimens are detailed in Herndon Dowling's specimen lists and field notebooks. While there are some exceptions, most of the drawings are details of snake anatomy such as their hemipenes, heads, scale patterns, vertebrae, and maxillaries. In many cases, the species represented are extremely rare and the drawing my be otherwise unpublished. Many of the original drawings were used in Herndon Dowling's published research manuscripts.

Year Added:



Western Connecticut State University


Mr. Brian Stevens
Western Connecticut State Univeristy

Dr. Theodora Pinou
Western Connecticut State University

Date Range

1957 - 1993

Geographic Scope

The drawings represent snake clades from all continents. Every recognized snake lineage is represented in this collection. A concentration of the species represented represent the Neotropical snake diversity.


  • 1000 Artworks