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Unearthing New Species

FHU students and professors discover previously undocumented species of amphibians and reptiles in local counties.

All students enrolled in last spring’s herpetology class at Freed-Hardeman University taught by Dr. Brian Butterfield, were published in the December 2012 edition of the quarterly “Herpetological Review” as a result of their having identified previously undocumented species.

The “Herpetological Review” is peer-reviewed and includes articles and notes related to the field of herpetology. The review is published by the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, one of the premier amphibian and reptile societies.

According to Butterfield, his students identified species that had not been officially documented in Chester, McNairy and Hardin counties. The spring peeper, spiny softshell, Southeastern five-lined skink, little brown skink, yellow-bellied kingsnake and diamond-backed watersnake were among the species identified.

Students who identified previously undocumented species included these: Chavonna Christy, Catherine Combs, Savannah Cole, Summer Cole, Mark Cooper, Ashley Foster, Whitney Pirtle Gravelle, Ethan Kuykendall, Melissa Marshall, Marcus Posey, Sarah Tucker and Abigail Vann. Non-students who participated in the activity and were published included Dr. LeAnn Self-Davis, Lee Barton, and Joey Butterfield.

Butterfield offers herpetology, an upper-division zoology course, in the spring semester of odd years. “I am keenly interested in my students participating in the scientific process,” he said. “Publishing in the scientific arena provides my students rich academic experiences as well as builds their resumes for scientific pursuits beyond Freed-Hardeman.”

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