Robert Mertens

Robert Mertens

Robert Mertens (December 1, 1894 - August 23, 1975) was a German herpetologist. The Robert Mertens' day gecko is a species named after him, and he also postulated Mertensian mimicry.

Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Mertens moved to Germany and attended the University of Leipzig, earning his PhD in zoology there in 1916. After working at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt for several years, he became a lecturer at the University of Frankfurt in 1932. In his capacity as museum curator, and also in the various posts he held at the University, he was able to travel extensively and study lizards (particularly varanids, lacertids, and geckos) in many different locations, including Indonesia, Namibia and El Salvador.

Robert Mertens authored several books on zoology, including "La Vie des Amphibiens et Reptiles" in 1959. An English translation, "The World of Amphibians and Reptiles", was published in 1960.

Ironically (or, as he remarked as he lay dying, fittingly) for a herpetologist, he died after being bitten while feeding his pet savanna twigsnake, "Thelotornis capensis".


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