Remembrances of Ken Miyata

by Greg Mayer

Jerry and I have written a number of times here at WEIT about our late friend and colleague Ken Miyata, a naturalist, scientist, photographer, writer, and fisherman of great talent who named Jerry’s frog, Atelopus coynei, and tragically died in 1983.

Ken Miyata fishing, by b wu.

Ken Miyata fishing, by b wu.

Jon Losos at the Museum of Comparative Zoology has prepared for publication some of Ken’s unpublished studies, and they have just appeared in the latest issue of the MCZ’s Bulletin. In addition to Ken’s paper, there is an online supplement  to the Bulletin with remembrances of Ken by Jerry, myself, and several other of Ken’s friends and colleagues (and a further posting at Anole Annals with the recollections of David Wake). Some of the recollections will be familiar to WEIT readers from previous posts by Jerry and me, but others, especially those of b wu and Eric Larson, will give new insight into Ken’s remarkable accomplishments during his all too short life.


Miyata, K.I. 2013. Ecological and population data on some little known Ecuadorian anoles. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 161(2):45-78. pdf

Wu, B., E. Larson, G. Mayer, J. Coyne, R. Huey, and C. Crumly. 2013. Ken Miyata: some remembrances. Supplement to Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 161(2), 9 pp. pdf


  1. sgo
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I had no idea about Ken Miyata (chalk that up to my ignorance; I knew about the frog but it just didn’t connect) but found myself reading the pieces nonetheless. They’re interesting. From those stories, a remarkable person indeed.

    And now I am wondering: did they ever check his original thesis to see who it was signed by, Emmylou Harris or Linda Ronstadt, or both? It seems fitting to know, in light of today’s earlier post!

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      I’m almost positive it was Emmylou Harris, as Ken and I both liked her, and that jogs my memory. But all one would have to do is check the copies on file at the MCZ; presumably the signed one is the one he gave to the library rather than his own person copy. (But one never knows.)

      • Jonathan Losos
        Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Yes, we checked and there is no signature on the copy maintained in the Ernst Mayr Library at the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I have a xerox copy of the page signed by Emmylou, but I’d have to dig through a bunch of old files to find it.


  2. Posted August 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I hope that you don’t mind, but I have nominated your site for some awards, see here:

  3. James Knight
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Ken was one of the brightest, fastest-rising stars in the herpetological night sky. I have wondered, many times, just what we all lost at his untimely death. I still have the newspaper clipping announcing it. I remember Skip Lazell and I were standing in the corner of the Herpetology Library at the MCZ talking about how something was very wrong because Ken hadn’t checked in for over three days. Ken was already a giant in the field of Herpetology, but he would have been so much larger…

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Jim: Good to see you stopping by here– thanks for your comments and recollections.


      • James Knight
        Posted August 6, 2013 at 4:00 am | Permalink

        I am sure that, like so many others, I have a number of fond memories of Ken. He was a good person to interact with on both a professional and personal level.

        Has a list of all the taxa named for him been developed?

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