Christopher J. Raxworthy

Curator, Department of Herpetology, Division of Vertebrate Zoology

Principal Investigator, Institute for Comparative Genomics

Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School

+1 (212) 769-5802


  • Open University, Ph.D., 1989
  • University of London (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College), B.Sc., 1985

Research Interests

Dr. Raxworthy, who joined the Museum in 2000, has been studying reptiles and amphibians in Madagascar since 1985. Since 1985 Dr. Raxworthy has found (and is continuing to describe) many more new species and has added a wealth of information to the knowledge on known species. Currently, his research is focused on gecko and chameleon molecular and morphological systematics, and the use of remotely sensed data (from satellites) to help predict the distributions and model the ecological niches of species.  This project includes field surveys mountainous areas of northern Madagascar, of which many have never been previously explored or surveyed. Dr. Raxworthy also has conducted fieldwork in Vietnam, Ghana, and Mali. His broader research interests include the applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for identifying conservation priorities, and exploring patterns of speciation and endemism in Madagascar.


Division of Vertebrate Zoology

Department of Herpetology

Institute for Comparative Genomics

Richard Gilder Graduate School

Chris Raxworthy website at Columbia




Ruane, S., E.A. Myers, K. Lo, S. Yuen, R.S. Welt, M. Juman, I. Futterman, R.A. Nussbaum, G. Schneider, F.T. Burbrink, and C.J. Raxworthy. 2018. Unrecognized species diversity and new insights into colour pattern polymorphism within the widespread Melagasy snake Mimophis (Serpentes, Lamprodiidae). Systematics and Biodiversity 16 (3): 229–244. [DOI 10.1080/14772000.2017.1375046]

Yuan, Z-Y., B-L. Zhang, C.J. Raxworthy, D.W. Weisrock, P.M. Hime, J-Q. Jin, E.M. Lemmon, A.R. Lemmon, S.D. Holland, M.L. Kortyna, W-W. Zhou, M-S. Peng, J. Che, and E. Prendini. 2018. Natatanuran frogs used the Indian Plate to step-stone disperse and radiate across the Indian Ocean. 2019. National Science Review 6(1): 10–14. [DOI 10.1093/nsr/nwy092]

Zichello, J.M., K.L. Baab, K.P. McNulty, C.J. Raxworthy, M.E. Steiper, , 2018. Hominoid intraspecific cranial variation mirrors neutral genetic diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115 (45), 11501–11506. [DOI 10.1073/pnas.1802651115]


Blumgart, D., J. Dolhem, and C.J. Raxworthy. 2017. Herpetological diversity across intact and modified habitats of Nosy Komba Island, Madagascar. Journal of Natural History 51 (11–12): 625–642. [DOI 10.1080/00222933.2017.1287312]

Le, M., and C.J. Raxworthy. 2017. Human-mediated dispersals do not explain tortoise distribution on the Indian Ocean’s islands. Journal of Biogeography 44 (10): 2421–2424. [DOI 10.1111/jbi.13055]

Pedro, L.V., C.J. Raxworthy, W.C. Wheeler, and D.R. Frost. 2017. Nomenclatural stability does not justify recognition of paraphyletic taxa: a response to Scherz et al. 2016. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 111: 56–64. [DOI 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.03.016]


Florio, A.M., and C.J. Raxworthy. 2016. A phylogeographic assessment of the malagasy giant chameleons (Furcifer verrucosus and Furcifer oustaleti). PLoS One. 11(6): e0154144. [DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0154144]

Resetarits, E.J. and C.J. Raxworthy, 2016. Hidden in plain sight: how ventral line markings in chameleons may enhance camouflage. The American Naturalist 187 (2), 262–273. [DOI 10.1086/684412]

Ruane, S., F.T. Burbrink, B. Randriamahtantsoa, and C.J. Raxworthy. 2016. The cat-eyed snakes of Madagascar: phylogeny and description of a new species of Madagascarophis from the Tsingy of Ankarana. Copeia 104 (3): 712–721. [DOI 10.1643/CH-15-346]

Stanley, R.C., and C.J. Raxworthy. 2016. Rediscovery of the enigmatic day gecko Phelsuma masohoala in Northeast Madagascar. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 11: 4012–4017.



Teaching Experience

Faculty Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, 1998–2000
  • Assistant Professor, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Columbia University, 1996–1998

Courses Taught

  • Biotic Surveys and Inventories, Columbia University, 2002
  • Principles of Biogeography, University of Kansas, 1999
  • Topics in Reptile Research, University of Kansas, 1999
  • Biogeography, Columbia University, 1997-98
  • Evolution Core Courses I and II, Columbia University, 1996–97 (team taught)
  • Ecology Core Courses I and II, Columbia University, 1996 (team taught)
  • Biogeography Seminar, University of Antananarivo, 1997

Graduate Advisees

  • 27 student advisees since 1991. Recent students include: 
    • M. Randriambahiniarime, University of Antananarivo
    • A. (Tsoa) Ranjanahaisoa, University of Antananarivo
    • V. Rakotomalala, University of Antananarivo
    • L. Andrimandimbiarisoa,University of Antananarivo
    • Valerie Clark, Columbia University
    • Minh Le, Columbia University
    • Antonia Florio, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Graduate Committees

  • Member of 14 graduate committees since 2000. Recent comittees include:
    • M. Randriambahiniarime, University of Antananarivo
    • A. (Tsoa) Ranjanahaisoa, University of Antananarivo
    • V. Rakotomalala, University of Antananarivo
    • L. Andrimandimbiarisoa, University of Antananarivo
    • Ryan P. Kelly, Columbia University
    • Adrian Tejedor, Columbia University
    • Valeria Tavares, Columbia University