PAUL RÜTHLING: Verdugo Peak, La Canada Valley, and Verdugo Canyon
Robert Jan "Roy" van de Hoek, President
Ballona Institute
Los Angeles, California 90293
İApril 10, 2013

Robert "Roy" van de Hoek
In the first issue of LORQUINIA (Volume 1, Number 1, Page 6) of August 1916, there appeared the first article on herpetology by Paul Rüthling. Paul was a very special natural historian because he was only 17 years old when he began authoring articles about herpetology on February 20, 1915 for COPEIA. Paul's first article in COPEIA was about snakes but within a year he also wrote about salamanders and conservation in a quickly urbanizing Los Angeles 100 years ago. In 1916, at 19 years old, Paul became the Editor of LORQUINIA. Paul wrote several articles on herpetology for LORQUINIA between 1916 and 1917. And Paul served as President from 1916 to 1917 of the Lorquin Natural History Club in Los Angeles. The Lorquin Club became the Lorquin Entomological Society about 10 years later in 1928. Featured below is the first known article on herpetology that Paul wrote for LORQUINIA in 1916. A little later, he wrote additional articles in LORQUINIA on rattlesnakes, lizards, conservation, and a revised list of snakes of Los Angeles.

August, 1916
The sun shone and the weather was summery on Sunday, February 6, 1916, the first warm day after a long period of cold and rain of the preceding winter.

Shortly after daybreak Robert Elwin, R. Lyttle, Paul Rüthling and Ledyard Leech met in Glendale, a small town about ten miles from Los Angeles. Before the day became very warm, they ascended Verdugo Peak, altitude about 4000 feet. On the way back they climbed down a side canyon that runs toward the La Canada Valley, and by way of Verdugo Canyon returned to Glendale.

In the early morning nothing beside some tree toads and one toad was caught. After leaving the peak many wood rat nests were observed built near the bottom of small canyons. A large rat ran out of one of these that was torn open among the brush on the mountain side. Down the steep slope the collectors rolled a large stone that was under the nest and discovered, where the stone had been, a skink and a good sized Footless Lizard.

At the mouth of the canyon, when they had reached the valley floor, they found a group of oak trees far out in the open grape field. Among the stones at the foot of these trees and within about ten feet of each other were caught, under the first stone lifted, a young Pacific Bull Snake and a Footless Lizard, and among other stones, Brown-shouldered Swifts, Fence Lizards and one Alligator Lizard.

Tree toads were heard singing and some eggs were found in shallow pools in Verdugo Canyon.

The catch of the trip included every species of lizard known to exist in the vicinity of Los Angeles except Stejneger's Whip-tailed Lizard and the Horned Lizard and also included the first snake seen in the field by any member of the club this year. The total catch was as follows:
7 Fence Lizards, Sceloporus biseriatus, [more were seen.]
3 Brown-shouldered Swifts, Uta stansburiana, [more were seen.]
2 Alligator Lizards, Gerrhonotus scincicauda, [one was very young.]
2 Footless Lizards, Anniella pulchra, [in earth under stones.]
1 Skink, Eumeces.
1 Pacific Bull Snake, Pituophis catenifer, [about twenty inches long]
5 Toads, Bufo halophilus.
6 Tree-toads, Hyla regilla.
5 Salamanders, Batrachoseps attenuatus, [some large and some small.]
6 Millipedes, a large species [unidentified.]
Many scorpions and about five species of centipedes were set free after examinination.

Robert "Roy" van de Hoek
At the time of Paul Rüthling writing the article on the winter herpetofauna of the Verdugo region of Los Angeles in 1916, Paul had been living in Los Angeles for at least 3 years as he had joined the Lorquin Club as a charter member in 1913. Paul lived with his mother near downtown Los Angeles at this time. However, a few years earlier in 1909, Paul had lived in New York. I discovered that Paul collected reptiles and amphibians as a boy of only 12 years of age, and brought them to Mary Cynthia Dickerson, Curator of Herpetology, at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). I have reviewed some archived letter correspondence beween Paul and Mary in the AMNH Archives which verifies this early history of the "life and times" of Paul. In fact, Paul asked Mary to become a member of the Lorquin Club, which she did in 1917, while Paul was President. Paul was also active at recruiting additional herpetologists and vertebrate zoologists to become members of the Lorquin Club as well, including Charles Camp and Joseph Grinnell.