Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas, by David Wang

Charles W. Myers passed away 4 September 2018

Posted on Sep 21, 2018

Dr. Charles W. Myers, Curator Emeritus in the Department of Herpetology died on September 4, 2018.

Myers was born in 1936 in St. Louis, received an A.A. degree from the local Harris Teacher’s College in 1957, and a B.S. from the University of Florida in 1960. He completed an M.A. (with a thesis on the ecology and evolution of the snake Rhadinaea flavilata) at Southern Illinois University in 1962, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1970 (with a dissertation on the systematics of the genus Rhadinaea, supervised by William E. Duellman).

Myers participated in more than forty field trips and expeditions to the neotropics, collecting over 9,000 specimens for the museum. He and his wife and young children spent four years resident in Panama while he was researching his dissertation; he subsequently made back-country trips to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Myers authored over 100 scientific papers and reports. He published his first 2 herpetological papers while still a high school student, completing another dozen as an undergraduate. During his career he described more than 80 new species. Myers will be most remembered for pathbreaking work on the natural history and systematics of poison-dart frogs (Dendrobatidae), much of it conducted in a four decade-long collaboration with National Academy member John W. Daly (1933–2008), a prominent alkaloid biochemist at the National Institutes of Health.

He began working as Assistant Curator at the AMNH in 1968 and served as Chairman from 1980–1987, and 1993–1998. In 1992 Myers was elected a fellow of the AAAS “for pioneering interdisciplinary studies leading to discovery of new amphibian toxins and to their application in elucidating the evolutionary history of poison-dart frogs.” Dr. Myers retired in 1999 but remained active in herpetology for many years as Curator Emeritus, publishing another 28 papers.

He is survived by his wife Joan, two children and four grandchildren.

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