James Arthur Peters (June 13, 1922 – December 18, 1972) was born in Durant, Iowa; grew up in Greenup, Illinois. He studied at the University of Michigan and obtained his Ph.D. in biology in 1952. He studied with the herpetologist Norman Edouard Hartweg.
He held teaching positions inBrown University (1952–1958)
Universidad Central de Ecuador, Fulbright Lecturer (1958–1959)
Southern Illinois University (1959)
San Fernando Valley State College (1959–1966)
He held positions in the Department of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Smithsonian InstitutionAssociate Curator (1964–1967)
Peters was a member of professional societies such as: American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, where he served as secretary, 1960–1966, vice-president, 1967 and president, 1970. He was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club. He inaugurated the Smithsonian Herpetological Information Services which distributed materials to herpetological institutions and individuals. He founded the newsletter MUDPIE (Museum and University Data Program and Information Exchange) providing information on computer programs, references, grants, meetings, etc.
His main subject of research was herpetology and zoogeography of Latin America, especially Ecuador. During his thirty years of research in herpetology he described seventeen new species or subspecies, most of them amphibians, such as a few neotropical toads of the genus Atelopus.
Several neotropical amphibians and reptiles are named after him, including Anadia petersi, Gonatodes petersi, Helicops petersi, Micrurus petersi, Riama petrorum, Sibynomorphus petersi, and Tantilla petersi.Peters, J. A. 1960. Snakes of the Subfamily Dipsadinae. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
Peters, J. A., Orejas-Miranda, B., Donoso-Barros, R. 1970. Catalogue of Neotropical Squamata. Smithsonian: Washington, 2 vols. B9149.
Peters, J. A. 1959. Classic Papers in Genetics. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Peters, J. A. 1964. Dictionary of Herpetology. Hafner, New York.
Article in the Concise American Heritage Dictionary.
Article in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
The snakes of Ecuador; check list and key (The Museum, Cambridge, 1960).