Die Geschichte der Herpetologie auf der Balkanhalbinsel
Next to the Iberian and the Appeninic peninsulas, the Balkan peninsula is the third big land mass forming the northern bank of the Mediterranean Sea. Its own northern boundary follows the Save and Danube rivers. From the Danube delta it runs southwards along the Black Sea coast into the Aegean Sea and includes the Aegean islands except those situated on the Anatolian shelf. In the west it follows the coastline of the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea up to northern Istria. The herpetological science has its geographic origin in Greece, and even the name of this scientific discipline is derived from the Greek language. Already in the third century BC Aristotle has written astonishingly precise descriptions of animals, also of reptiles. This is exemplified here by his early and impressively exact description of the chameleon. The Modern Age of herpetological research began with Carolus Linnaeus in the 1750-ies. The herpetofaunas of the Balkan countries were initially explored by scientists from more northern neighboring countries before autochthonous researchers took the lead, often considerably later. This is true for all Balkan countries, some of them having been influenced also by geopolitical influences (extensions of the Habsburg monarchy and the Ottoman Empire, later the breakup of Yugoslavia). Introduced are historically relevant authors, countrywise, with their most significant papers referring to the herpetofauna of the Balkan peninsula.