Department of Zoology


by R. Ernst © SMNS


Catalogue (Amphibia)

Catalogue (Reptilia A)

Catalogue (Reptilia B)

Catalogue (Types)

Special Feature I

Special Feature II

Picture Gallery

The Africa Focus of the Herpetological Collection of the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart
an online catalogue

Historical background

The herpetological collection of the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart (smns) contains important historical material. Starting at the beginning of the 19th century with collections of Baron Carl Ferdinand von Ludwig (1784-1847) and Duke Paul Wilhelm von Württemberg (1797-1860) it has subsequently been extended and now holds numerous specimens from various locations worldwide covering a wide range of geographical regions. Some of the historically most valuable material is included in the collections of Baron F. von Müller (collected 1836-1896) and August Kappler (collected 1832-1872). During World War II the herpetological collection lost valuable scientific material, and the original catalogue. In addition to this, it had to be moved to different locations several times, the last relocation being quite recent, hence impeding a revision of the entire collection, including the intended establishment of an electronic catalogue. Historically, the orders testudines and crocodylia have been an important taxonomic focus. However, not the least due to the work of Andreas Schlüter (head of the department) and Axel Kwet (scientific assistant), Neotropical amphibians have become one of the major foci within the last decade. This part of the collection now contains important and unique material especially from Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Suriname, and Guyana. The entire herpetological collection comprises about 20,000 specimens; originally it must have contained type specimens of at least 32 nominal species; 12 of them were probably destroyed during the war. At present the collection contains types of (47) nominal species and subspecies i. e. 27 holotypes, 139 paratypes, 7 syntypes, 2 lectotypes, and 2 paralectotypes.

Although historically important herpetological specimens from the afro tropical realm are deposited at the SMNS (among them several holo-, para-, syn-, and lectotypes), it was not until recently that the collection received unique material, which resulted in the establishment of an additional regional focus, namely West Africa and here particularly the Upper Guinean region, an area of outstanding biological diversity and high endemism. The Guinean forest ecosystem in particular, is considered one of the world's priority conservation areas and is therefore included in a list containing a total of 25 (recently extended to 34) global hotspots for biodiversity (see feature). To date, the Africa collection of the SMNS herpetology department contains ca. 3,211 (excluding types) specimens (1,546 Amphibians -more than 107 species belonging to 30 genera and 11 families-; 1,665 Reptiles -more than 266 species belonging to 88 genera and 21 families-), among them important type material, mainly from Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea: five holotypes with additional type series, and three important paratypes (Amphibians), two holotypes and additional paratypes (Reptiles). Additional material, mainly from northern (Morocco), eastern (Tanzania), and central (Cameroon) Africa contains one holotype (Amphibians), and five holotypes, 21 paratypes, two syntypes, one lectotype, and one paralectotype (Reptiles).

Ongoing research activities in West and Central Africa involving SMNS staff and research associates (see Working Group Community Ecology, University of Würzburg, Germany), are likely to contribute additional material in the near future. Several new taxa are currently being described, including a new genus of hyperoliid frog. Types of which will be deposited at the SMNS.

Apart from a complete specimen list, this online catalogue provides detailed information (specimen photographs, photographs of life specimens, calls, where available) on all species that are represented by type material. It will be updated as the collection grows and eventually extended in order to cover the entire herpetological collection of the SMNS. Feedback and comments are thus highly welcome.


top photo © B.Branch


Dr. Alexander Kupfer


Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart

Rosenstein 1

D-70191 Stuttgart



Department of Zoology