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An account of Indian serpents collected on the coast of Coromandel

containing descriptions and drawings of each species; together with experiments and remarks on their several poisons

Volumes 1-2

indian serpents coast of coromandel russellPatrick Russell

Printed by W. Bulmer and Co., For George Nicol, Pall-Mall, London, England..



Patrick Russell (6 February 1727, Edinburgh – 2 July 1805, London)[1] was a Scottish surgeon and naturalist who worked in India. He studied the snakes of India and is considered the "Father of Indian Ophiology". Russell's viper, Daboia russelii, is named after him.

In 1753, Alexander resigned, returning to London and publishing a Natural History of Aleppo and Parts Adjacent in 1756. Patrick took up the position left by Alexander and worked for about 18 years. The Pasha of Aleppo held him in high regard, even honouring him with a turban. A keen observer of traditions, he noted in a letter read by Alexander to the Royal Society an Arabian practice of inoculating children against smallpox using "variolus matter". Several outbreaks of bubonic plague occurred in Aleppo in 1760, 1761 and 1762. He studied the conditions of those who were infected and identified procedures to avoid infection such as breathing through a handkerchief soaked in vinegar. He continued to maintain notes on natural history and after Alexander died in 1768, he revised the Natural History of Aleppo in 1794. He noticed that fleas tended to reduce in numbers after the hottest weather, a climate he noticed also led to a decline in the number of plague cases.

Patrick, his brother Claud and the family left for England in January 1791. Some of the collections he made were placed in the museum at Madras although he took back some snake skins that are now in the collection of the Natural History Museum at London. Returning to England, he worked on the book on snakes, which was to be published by the East India Company. The first volume of his An Account of Indian Serpents Collected on the Coast of Coromandel was published in 1796 with 44 plates. The second volume appeared in four parts, the first two of which were published in 1801 and 1802. These included 46 coloured plates. Patrick Russell died on 2 July 1805, three days after an illness. He was never married. The third and fourth parts of the second volume of his book was published after his death in 1807 and 1809. Two scientific papers were read on the pits of the pit viper Trimeresurus which he demonstrated as not being associated with hearing. Another paper demonstrated the voluntary mechanism by which the cobra spread its hood

© The above writeup on Russell by Nithyanand

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