Herpetological Review: The Herpetological Art of Robert Cyril Stebbins

It has been some time since my last contribution to the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles‘ journal, Herpetological Review (see also SSAR’s facebook page), so I was honored when I was asked to contribute a retrospective on the late herpetologist and artist Dr. Robert (“Bob”) Cyril Stebbins (March 31, 1915—September 23, 2013) for the column, “Art in Herpetology.”

Hot off the presses in the second issue of the 2017 volume (page 472-473), The Herpetological Art of Robert Cyril Stebbins looks back at the life and career of a man whose contributions to the field of herpetology are still not only celebrated, but put to work on a daily basis as biologists young and old pick up their copy of Stebbins’ field guide, A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, and thumb through the pages to identify this or that lizard, check a species’ range, or compare a specimen to the carefully illustrated plates within.

In the process of preparing this piece, I had the opportunity to handle Dr. Stebbins field notebooks and original intricate illustrations at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Bancroft Library, and had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Emeritus David B. Wake, former Director and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and Theodore Papenfuss, research specialist at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, about their experience working alongside this venerable herpetologist. But nothing says more about Dr. Stebbins’ passion for herpetology than his artwork.

Full Citation: Bettelheim, Matthew P. 2017. Art in Herpetology: The Herpetological Art of Robert Cyril Stebbins. Herpetological Review 48(2): p 472-473.


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  1. #1 by Steven C. Anderson on June 24, 2017 - 11:43 am

    A truly remarkable man in conservation and education as well as in herpetology.

  2. #2 by sandersdrdirt@comcast.net on June 24, 2017 - 12:43 pm



    I’m not sure if I ever told you about the painting of the Western toad Bob Stebbins gave me in 1995 after he was awarded the “Environmental Award” by UC Berkeley; I was on the staff at UCB Planning Office and worked with Bob In the Campus Hill Area on various projects. Our Office engineered the conference in 1995.

    The painting resides proudly on our mantle here in Stockton.

    Dale Sanders, alias Dr. Dirt, Bob agreed that this student’ designated nickname was warranted, (209) 467-8782.

    • #3 by Matthew Bettelheim on June 25, 2017 - 11:01 pm

      That is a great honor indeed! That toad in particular has a lot of charisma for sure.

  3. #4 by dipperanch on June 26, 2017 - 1:07 pm

    And his wife, Anna-Rose, turned some of those paintings into beautiful and accurate needlepoint.

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