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Karl Patterson Schmidt was an eminent American herpetologist—one who studies amphibians and reptiles. He worked for the American Museum of Natural History in New York and then for the Field Museum in Chicago, during which he made several expedition to Central and South America to collect specimens for the museum. He was also the president of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. During his long scientific career, Schmidt handled countless deadly snakes. But in 1957, he made the fatal mistake of underestimating the toxicity of a juvenile boomslang snake, sent to him by the director of the Lincoln Park Zoo for identification. While examining the serpent with his colleagues, the agitated snake opened its mouth and buried its fangs into the flesh of Schmidt’s left thumb.

Karl Patterson Schmidt


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