Areas of Expertise (5)
Natural History Collections
An internationally renowned herpetologist, Professor Bauer has described more new species of reptile than any other living scientist, including over seven percent of the more than 1,600 living geckos. He was part of an international team of scientists that, in 2017 completed the ‘atlas of life’ – the first global review and map of every vertebrate on Earth. His decades of field work in 29 countries, principally in the deserts of Africa, Asia and Australia, have identified patterns of distribution, documented the diversity of reptile species, and identified areas where conservation action is vital. Bauer is the go-to source for information about reptiles, especially geckos, which are his specialty.
University of California, Berkeley: Ph.D.
Michigan State University: B.S.
Select Accomplishments (6)
The Council on Botanical or Horticultural Libraries 2016 Annual Literature Award for a Significant Work in Botanical or Hoticultural Literature (professional)
For "The Curious Mister Catesby: A 'truly ingenious" naturalist explores new world
Systematics and Biodiversity 2014 Outstanding Paper of the Yea Award (professional)
For "Phylogeny, taxonomy, and biogeography of a cicum-Indian Ocean clade of leaf-toed geckos (Reptili: Gekkota), with a description of two new genera)"
Graduate Alumni Founder's Award (professional)
Villanova Outstanding Research Award (professional)
Emerald Award for Environmental Excellence (professional)
Honorary Fellow, California Academy of Sciences (professional)
- American Association for Zoological Nomenclature
- American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
- Bombay Natural History Society
- British, Canadian, Chicago, Japanese, Maryland and New Zealand Herpetological Societies
- International Society for the History and Bibliography of Herpetology
- Pacific Science Association
- Sigma Xi
- Society for the History of Natural History
- Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
- World Congress of Herpetology
- Zoological Society of London
- Zoological Society of Southern Africa
- Associate in Herpetology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
- Extraoridnary Professor in Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Select Media Appearances (5)
Earless African pygmy toad discovered on remote mountain in Angola
Researchers have found a new species of African pygmy toad in Serra da Neve Inselberg, an isolated mountain and Angola’s second-highest peak. The new species, formally named Poyntonophrynus pachnodes, or the Serra da Neve pygmy toad, lacks both external and internal parts of the ear that help frogs hear. While earless toads aren’t rare, this is the first time a Poyntonophrynus species has been reported without ears. Citation: Luis M. P. Ceríaco, Mariana P. Marques, Suzana Bandeira, Ishan Agarwal, Edward L. Stanley, Aaron M. Bauer, Mathew P. Heinicke, David C. Blackburn. A new earless species of Poyntonophrynus (Anura, Bufonidae) from the Serra da Neve Inselberg, Namibe Province, Angola. ZooKeys, 2018; 780: 109 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.780.25859
Skin-ditching gecko inexplicably leaves body armor behind when threatened
Science News online
When trouble looms, the fish-scale geckos of Madagascar resort to what might seem like an extreme form of self-defense -- tearing out of their own skin. Some groups, such as Geckolepis, have also evolved weak skin as a form of defense, said Aaron Bauer, the Gerald M. Lemole Endowed Chair in Integrative Biology at Villanova University and co-author of the study. When a predator strikes, these geckos can rip out of their skin to escape, "like the tear-away football jerseys of the 1970s," he said.
Mid-Cretaceous amber fossils illuminate the past diversity of tropical lizards
Science Advances online
Authors: Juan D. Daza1,*, Edward L. Stanley2,3, Philipp Wagner4, Aaron M. Bauer5 and David A. Grimaldi6 Modern tropical forests harbor an enormous diversity of squamates, but fossilization in such environments is uncommon and little is known about tropical lizard assemblages of the Mesozoic. We report the oldest lizard assemblage preserved in amber, providing insight into the poorly preserved but potentially diverse mid-Cretaceous paleotropics. Twelve specimens from the Albian-Cenomanian boundary of Myanmar (99 Ma) preserve fine details of soft tissue and osteology, and high-resolution x-ray computed tomography permits detailed comparisons to extant and extinct lizards.
New Family Of Gecko Discovered
Science Daily online
A new family of gecko, the charismatic large-eyed lizard popularized by car insurance commercials, has been discovered. Scientists have long been interested in geckos and their evolution because they are key biodiversity indicators and are found on nearly every continent. Graduate students Tony Gamble from the University of Minnesota and Aaron Bauer from Villanova sequenced DNA from 44 species of gecko and used this genetic data to reconstruct the animals' family tree. The resulting new classification is different from previous classifications, which are based solely on foot structure.
How sticky toepads evolved in geckos and what that means for adhesive technologies
Science Daily online
Geckos are known for sticky toes that allow them to climb up walls and even hang upside down on ceilings. A new study shows that geckos have gained and lost these unique adhesive structures multiple times over the course of their long evolutionary history in response to habitat changes. The findings are published in the most recent edition of PLoS ONE. Gamble is a researcher in the College of Biological Sciences' Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development. Aaron Bauer, a professor at Villanova University, is the study's senior author. The research is part of a long-standing collaboration on gecko evolution among biologists at the University of Minnesota, Villanova University and the University of Calgary.
Research Grants (5)
OPUS: Diversity and Comparative Biology of Geckos
National Science Foundation
Digitizing Southwestern African Herpetological Collections, JRS Biodiversity Foundation
California Academy of Sciences
Thomas Barbour Fund for Field Research
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Collaborative Research: Quantifying climate-forced extinction risks for lizards, amphibians, fishes, plants
National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
Select Academic Articles (4)
Description of a new species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Nilgala Savannah forest, Uva Province of Sri LankaZootaxa
Karunarathna S, Bauer AM, De Silva A, Surasinghe T, Somaratna L, Madawala M, Gabadage D, Botejue M, Henkanaththegedara S, Ukuwela KDB.
A new species of Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 is described from Nilgala Savannah Forest in Sri Lanka. The new species is diagnosed from all other congeners by the following suite of characters: small body size (SVL< 33 mm), dorsal scales on trunk homogeneous, one pair of post mentals separated by a single small chin scale, ventral scales on trunk smooth, subimbricate, 17–19 scales across the belly. Subdigitals scansors smooth, entire, unnotched; lamellae under digit IV of pes 17 –18.
A new species of African snake-eyed skink (Scincidae: Panaspis) from central and northern NamibiaZootaxa
CerÍaco LMP, Branch WR, Bauer AM.
A recent molecular revision of the snake-eyed skinks of the genus Panaspis Cope, 1868 uncovered extensive cryptic diversity within the P. wahlbergi (Smith, 1849) and P. maculicollis Jacobsen & Broadley, 2000 species complexes. We here describe an unnamed central and northern Namibian lineage of the P. maculicollis group as a new species.
A new earless species of Poyntonophrynus (Anura, Bufonidae) from the Serra da Neve Inselberg, Namibe Province, Angola.Zookeys
Luis M. P. Ceríaco, Mariana P. Marques, Suzana Bandeira, Ishan Agarwal, Edward L. Stanley, Aaron M. Bauer, Mathew P. Heinicke, David C. Blackburn
African pygmy toads of the genus Poyntonophrynus are some of the least known species of African toads. The genus comprises ten recognized species endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, five of which are restricted to southwestern Africa. Recent field research in Angola provided new material for three species of Poyntonophrynus, including a morphologically distinctive population from the Serra da Neve Inselberg.
Mid-Cretaceous amber fossils illuminate the past diversity of tropical lizardsScience Advances
Juan D. Daza1, Edward L. Stanley, Philipp Wagner, Aaron M. Bauer, and David A. Grimald.
Modern tropical forests harbor an enormous diversity of squamates, but fossilization in such environments is uncommon and little is known about tropical lizard assemblages of the Mesozoic. We report the oldest lizard assemblage preserved in amber, providing insight into the poorly preserved but potentially diverse mid-Cretaceous paleotropics.