Doctor Elias Francis Shipman and the Hoosier Frog
Keywords:Lithobates areolatus circulosus, Hoosier frog, northern crawfish frog, Benton County Indiana, E.F. Shipman
The holotype of the Hoosier frog (Rana circulosa), now the northern crawfish frog (Lithobates
areolatus circulosus), is an important museum specimen with minimal documentation. Its exact collection locality
and date are unknown. The specimen is the earliest and northernmost Indiana record, and the sole known
individual from Benton County. Our investigation of Elias Francis Shipman, the man who collected the holotype,
provides some resolution on the holotype’s provenance. Shipman was a native Hoosier with family ties to Benton
County. He attended Northwestern University, graduated with a medical degree, and set up medical practice in
Remington, Indiana. As an undergraduate he collected both zoological and botanical specimens, but mostly
botanical. A sufficient number of his botanical specimens exist in herbaria databases to reveal a collecting pattern.
Biographical and botanical data indicate that the frog was collected in summer or fall 1876. While unable to
determine an exact collection locality within Benton County, areas near Shipman family farms in Grant and
Gilboa townships are strong possibilities. These conclusions may change if a different collecting pattern emerges
when more of Shipman’s herbarium becomes available for analysis. The biographical information on Shipman
suggests a date range of 1872–1885 for his undated plant specimens and provides an opportunity to update plant
collector databases. Shipman’s previously unrecognized contributions to Indiana natural history are worthy of note.