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Ditmars, Raymond Lee (22 June 1876–12 May 1942), zoo curator and popular writer on reptiles, was born in Newark, New Jersey, son of John Van Harlingen Ditmars, a furniture dealer and Confederate veteran, and Mary Knaus. When Raymond was six the family moved to New York City. His interest in nature began with visits to Central Park, which had a small menagerie and natural areas teeming with snakes and other creatures, and to the salt marshes on the outskirts of Brooklyn, where his family spent the summer. These experiences captivated his interest, and, although his family intended for him to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, his mind was on snakes....

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Schmidt, Karl Patterson (19 June 1890–26 September 1957), herpetologist, was born in Lake Forest, Illinois, the son of George Washington Schmidt, a professor, and Margaret Patterson. His mother’s keen interest in natural history, especially botany, was an early influence on his childhood. When Schmidt was about five years old he spent a year in Europe, where he acquired fluency in German. He enjoyed camping in northern Wisconsin with his father during three summers. He attended Lake Forest Academy and in 1906 entered Lake Forest College, where his father taught German and literature. After one year he left college to work on a family-owned farm in Stanley, Wisconsin, for six years, helping to establish a dairy farm. There he developed a keen interest in natural history. He kept notes on variations in the woodland plant ...

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Stejneger, Leonhard Hess (30 October 1851–28 February 1943), ornithologist, herpetologist, and museum curator, was born in Bergen, Norway, the son of Peter Stamer Steineger, a merchant, and Ingeborg Catharina Hess. Born with the German surname Steineger, he took its Norwegian spelling after 1870. At the age of sixteen Stejneger showed an interest in zoology—especially birds—and kept extensive notes and sketches from field observations. In 1871 he published in ...