June 18, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) He’s trekked through remote Malaysian and Cambodian jungles dozens of times in search of new species, at times dodging forgotten land mines and extricating blood-sucking leaches from his skin.
But the rigorous missions La Sierra University biologist Lee Grismer has undertaken have more than paid off. The intrepid herpetologist has discovered nearly 60 species of pit vipers, geckos, lizards and other amphibians and reptiles over the past 10 years, all of them brand new to science.
Through June 27, Charter Communications in Southern California is broadcasting a five-minute segment with Grismer at the end of each CNN Headline News hour, between the hours of 12 a.m. and 4 p.m., at 24 and 54 minutes to the hour. During this interview, Charter Local Edition host Brad Pomerance talks with the scientist about his lab’s wide-ranging research, his new discoveries, his views on conservation, and his trip later this month to a remote limestone cave on top of a mountain near the borders of Thailand and Malaysia. Grismer aims to capture a gecko species that lives in the cave’s darkness. He will bring it to La Sierra for DNA analysis to estimate how long it took the animal to adapt from a forest environment to its cave home.
Grismer’s interview appears on Charter’s CNN HLN channel 49. It will also run on Charter’s Channel 101, June 28 to July 4, at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 8 p.m., 11 p.m., 2 a.m., and 5 a.m. Viewers who can’t access Charter Communications may view the clip at this link: http://www.lasierra.edu/index.php?id=3281
The five-minute segment includes a live ‘visual aid’ – Grismer brought to the interview a 17-foot, reticulated python for Pomerance and viewers to see.
Upon Grismer’s return in July, Charter Special Edition, channel 101, plans to broadcast a half hour show featuring the new species he captures and discussing his hair-raising adventures in the jungle. Grismer plans to show the cave gecko and will bring along a live poisonous pit viper that he previously caught in the same vicinity. The viper species possibly preys on the gecko.
A colleague and student from Malaysia who works with Grismer happened upon the cave-dwelling, rust-colored gecko and informed Grismer about it. It is yet another creature unknown to the modern world. “Science hasn’t seen this before. The world doesn’t know about it,” he said.
Grismer has taught biology at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif. since 1994. Each summer he takes biology students on adventurous trips to the Malaysian jungles to conduct field research and search for new animals. But the journey to the mountain cave Grismer will take by himself. “It’s too dangerous,” he said. “I got shot at a couple years ago near that place.”
Grismer has written extensively about his findings in scientific and popular journals, including many in Zootaxa, a major zoological journal. His more recent discoveries include psychedelic geckos and a Southeast Asian rock gecko. He has authored between 40 and 50 peer-reviewed articles over the past two years. His lab’s research is underwritten in part by grants from the National Geographic Society and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Grismer is a member of several societies and in 2002 published a 409-page tome titled “Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortes.” The book includes detailed photography and derives from 22 years of field research in remote areas.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University