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Do Herpetologists Have As Much Fun?

Yesterday, I wrote of the fun I had looking through Fishbase, a search engine for fish species, and finding quite unusual names for many of the slippery little beasties.

Today, I’ve found a similar search engine for amphibians, and a good thing too – here it is October, and I had forgotten that it’s the Year of the Frog. AmphibiaWeb includes a great deal of sad information about the decline of amphibians around the world, in addition to a species search like that on Fishbase.

It’s a great resource for people who are serious about amphibians, but I do have to admit that a superficial question is on my mind: Do herpetologists have as much fun as ichthyologists?

The names of the animals listed on Amphibiaweb tend to be a lot less imaginative than the names of the animals listed on Fishbase. I’ll give you the hellbender and the mudpuppy to be sure, but most people know about those. Looking for an unusually-named lesser-known amphibian took a while until I came up with the black warrior waterdog.

Most amphibian names seem to be more literally descriptive than most fish names. There’s the four-toed salamander, the common forest frog and the short-footed frog.

What’s to account for the difference between naming flippant fish and stolid toads? What has ichthyology got that herpetology can’t grasp?

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