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Taking a Closer Look at Howard K. Gloyd

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Tags: Chicago Academy of Sciences, herpetology, snakes, howard k gloyd

Created: 2/9/2015      Updated: 8/2/2016

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Chicago Academy of Sciences Director and herpetologist Howard Kay Gloyd was born 113 years ago today.

Howard Gloyd on expedition

Born in DeSoto, Kansas, Gloyd taught at Ottawa University, the Agricultural College of Kansas State University and the University of Michigan before joining the Chicago Academy of Sciences in 1936 as Academy Director. It was also around this time that he became vice president of the American Society of Icthyologists and Herpetologist and was a consultant for the State Natural History Survey of Illinois. While at the Academy, Gloyd worked to expand the Academy’s scientific publications and additions to the Academy’s public lecture series, and still conducted his own personal research on snakes with a special emphasis on rattlesnakes.

Gloyd’s focus on rattlesnakes led him to organize three separate expeditions to Arizona, with the first in 1936, the second in 1940, and the third in 1946. The specimens he acquired during these expeditions are actually still in our collections. Although Gloyd left the Academy in 1958, he continued to remain an important figure in the world of herpetology, describing new species (like the Florida cottonmouth snake) and holding various lecturer and research associate positions at the University of Arizona which culminated in his appointment as Emeritus Professor of Zoology at U of A. He held this position until his death in 1978.

In addition to his contributions to our collections, Gloyd continues to be connected to the Nature Museum. Two of the snake species featured in our living collections are actually his herpetological namesakes. The Eastern Fox Snake (Elaphe vuplina gloydi) was named for Gloyd by Roger Conant in 1940, while the Western Hognose Snake subspecies the Dusty Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus gloydi) was named for Gloyd by Richard A. Edgren in 1952. You may have met some of our own Fox Snakes, like Toblerone, during our Critter Connections, and if you’ve wandered through Mysteries of the Marsh, you’ve no doubt seen our own beautiful Western Hognose Snake!

Eastern Fox SnakeWestern Hognose Snake

Eastern Fox Snake and Western Hognose Snake, both named for Howard K. Gloyd

You can learn more about Howard K. Gloyd by checking out the resource below.

Biographies of People Honored in the Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America

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  • Tom Presnell said (on 6/25/2015 )

    Been doing some family history sleuthing after a recent discussion with my mother about her side of the family. I am absolutely delighted to see my grandfather's work and legacy continues to live on.

    Thank you for citing his accomplishments!

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