I am again excited to announce the publication of my most recent contribution to the new quarterly column, “Art in Herpetology,” one of the many new features of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles‘ new-and-improved, full-color journal, Herpetological Review (see also SSAR’s facebook page).
Hot off the presses in the second issue of the 2013 volume (page 253), you’ll find featured the moody engraving In the Larder prepared for the article, “Canvas-Back and Terrapin“, in the 1877 issue of Scribner’s Monthly magazine. In the gloomy larder depicted therein teeter two terrapins, surrounded by other decadences of the 19th Century – oysters, canvas-back ducks, Flor Fina cigars, Bordeaux wine.
Like the Pacific Coast’s western pond turtle (before the market demand for western pond turtle, in fact), diamond-back terrapins were collected along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast, first as a staple to feed slaves and later, as their numbers waned, as a culinary delicacy destined for the linened tables of the upperclass. Because so little is known about the market trade in “terrapins” along the Pacific Coast, species like the diamond-back terrapin can be used as a model to better understand the market demands for, harvest techniques in pursuit of, and eventual decline in western pond turtle populations throughout California and the west.
Full Citation: Bettelheim, Matthew P. 2013. Art in Herpetology. Herpetological Review 44(2): p 253.