94 not seen in the wild since 1981. In 7 chapters Tyler presents an overview of the interesting history of this frog, in which the female apparently swallows her eggs or tadpoles. After brooding them in her stomach she gives birth to fully metamorphosed young through her mouth. Only part of this process was observed dur- ing two occasions in 1973 and 1978. Based on deep-frozen aquariumwater in which tadpoles had been deposited prematurely, a multi-disciplinary research group started experiments to unravel the complicated and interesting processes which cause the stomach to stop acting as a digestive organ and instead turn into a brood sac with a thin wall to harbour developing tadpoles. It was hypothesized that the young secrete a pro- tective substance against gastric secretion. Tests showed that a prostaglandine secreted by the larvae is responsible for this action. Further study of this phenomenon could be benificial to human sufferers of gastric ulcers. Unfortunately the species habitat has been severely damaged by deforestation and a severe drought, thus halting further research. Fortunately in 1984 another species of Rheobatrachus also brooding its young in its stomach, was discovered, and this may serve to continue the experiments. The booklet is aimed at Australian naturalists and (high school) students, but is equally fitted for in- terested persons all over the world. For specialists it constitutes an agreeable companian volume to the more technical "The Gastric Brooding Frog", edited by the same author. Marinus S. Hoogmoed (Leiden) Book reviews Kuhnert, F., Das neue Schlangenbuch in Farbe, 1984: 1-39, 196 coloured pictures on 132 pages. Albert Müller Verlag A.G., Bahnhofstrasse 68, CH-8803 Rüschlikon-Zürich, Switzerland. DM 88;-/Sfr. 79/ Dfl. 49.- (In German, also available in Dutch translation). As can be deduced from the bibliographic description, the colour pictures form the main part of this book and the text is reduced to the bare essentials. The introduction contains short chapters on "Pattern and col- our", "Sloughing", "Of snakes and pythons", "Dangerous colubrids", "Deadly poisonous snakes", "Snakes and snakevenom" and "Bites and treatment", and is immediately followed by the register. The remainder of the book is taken up by the plates and short legends, each containing the following data: com- mon name, scientific name, size, food, habitat and distribution, the information provided consisting only of a few words. The coloured plates are excellent and depict quite a few species that rarely figure in books ( %'rachyboa boulengeri, Eristicophis maemahoni, Pseudocerasles persicus, Elaphe moellendorffi, E. mandarina) and also a number of colour aberrations (albinistic Clelia elelia, Naja naja, Crotalus atrox). A drawback of the book is that it does not present a balanced overview of the entire snakefauna but instead is heavily skewed in favour of poisonous snakes and boids, which form only a minor part of all snake species known (e.g. Colubridae 33, Boidae 46, Crotalidae 50, Viperidae 46, Elapidae 21). Nomenclature used is rather conservative (e.g. Agkistrodon is still used in its widest sense), but correct. Fig. 82 shows a trail of a desert snake, whereas the legend says it would show Causus resimus. This species, however, is shown in fig. 83 (animal on left). As a general introduction to snakes the book has the disadvantage mentioned above. However, for those interested in boids and poisonous snakes it contains a wealth of pictorial information. Finally, for everyone just interested in good photographs of snakes, this book is a must. Marinus S. Hoogmoed (Leiden) Book reviews Freiberg, M.A., Snakes of South America, 1982: 189 pp., numerous coloured and few black and white figures. T.H.F. Publications Ltd., 4 Kier Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7DS, England. Price £ 11.95. About half of the book is devoted to pictures, the other half to text, including a bibliography of 13 pages, a checklist of 38 pages and a key of 22 pages. The rest of the text deals with the families of South American snakes and with very short descriptions of 50 "fairly common and mostly larger species". From these few remarks it will be evident that this booklet (printed on rather dull paper, which does not enhance the rendi- tion of the colour pictures) mainly is meant as a pictorial guide to part of the South American snake-fauna. However, some care in using it is recommended, as at least some pictures have been wrongly named (e.g. 30 upper picture shows Chironius carinatus, not C. fuscus, p. 34 lower picture shows Leimadophis reginae, not Dromicus poecilogyrus; p. 54 lower picture, I doubt whether this is Leptophis ahaetulla, it looks more like
Amphibia-Reptilia – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1988
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