To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Texas Herpetological Society (THS), its members, several that were university professors, conceived a special symposium, Biology of the Pitvipers, which was held at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) from 17-19 November 1989. There were over 300 registrants representing 38 states and 8 foreign countries. This special meeting also paid tribute to two long-time and illustrious members of the THS, Hobart Smith and Ottys Sanders.
Under the careful editorial direction of UTA faculty members Jonathan Campbell and Edmund Brodie Jr., a peer-reviewed symposium volume bearing the same name of the symposium was initiated and subsequently published in 1992 (Biology of the Pitvipers, Selva. v-xi 467 pp.). This landmark publication (30 chapters, 50 authors) was a veritable academic catalyst, opening the doors for new meetings and other volumes (books) on charismatic snakes, notably true vipers, boas and pythons.
One review of the book by Göran Nilson (Herpetological Review 25, 82–85. 1994) perhaps best captures its significance to herpetology and biology at large. In his introductory lines, Nilson hits the nail square on its head (p. 82), There is, of course, no phenomenon such as carrying capacity in knowledge, but in Biology of the Pitvipers one can see more diverse approaches to the study of the biology of these snakes than ever before, more elegant solutions to an increasing number of problems, and the rise of new and fascinating questions. Later he states (p. 85), This book will definitely serve as the focal reference in pitviper evolutionary biology in its broad sense and as such it should have lasting value.
Indeed, if judged by how widely it and its chapters have been cited, it has had lasting importance to herpetologists and other biologists.