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Snake expert charms China as he extends his expertise internationally

An image of academic Mark O'Shea and Chinese filmmaker with his book

A University of Wolverhampton academic has extended his expertise internationally after one of his popular books was recently published by the Peking University Press. 

Wolverhampton born and educated, Professor Mark O’Shea MBE - a world-leading herpetologist - graduated from Wolverhampton Polytechnic in 1985 with a degree in Applied Sciences, with honours. 

Herpetology is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles. 

Now, Mark teaches on the University’s Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation and Biosciences courses in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.  

The Book of Snakes: a life size guide to 600 species from around the world, was originally published by the University of Chicago Press in 2018 and has also just been republished in the USA as a fully revised second edition. 

The Chinese edition is also now in print and is being publicised by a Chinese film maker who visited Wolverhampton for four days to shadow, interview and film Professor O’Shea to promote the book. 

The resultant films for the Chinese market have already excited interest in the Chinese edition with 500 copies of a special limited edition selling in 24 hours. The first film is available here with English subtitles. 

An internationally renowned TV presenter and reptile expert, Professor O’Shea is also an explorer, professional photographer, author of ten books, public speaker and a respected scientist. Mark’s adventurous herpetological television series, O’Shea’s Big Adventure, was broadcast internationally and ran for four seasons (1999-2003) and the 1st season is available again for free screening and download on Amazon Prime and Apple TV+ in the UK. 

As an advocate for herpetological conservation issues, Mark has conducted herpetological fieldwork or made films in almost 50 countries, on every continent except Antarctica.  He has worked on numerous tropical expeditions and co-lead a team documenting the entire herpetofauna of Timor-Leste, Asia’s newest country, many of the species being new to science. He has so far described twelve new snakes and a gecko but upwards of a dozen more species are pending. 

Professor O’Shea was awarded an MBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle for services to Higher Education, Zoology, Reptile Conservation and Snakebite Research. 

He said: “I was absolutely thrilled to hear that one of my books was going to be translated and published in China. This is an amazing achievement and shows that there is a real interest in the preservation and conservation of reptiles and amphibians in this part of the world. 

“The Chinese reviewer and translator of the book are from Chengdu Institute of Biology and they were excited to talk with me because they work in snake systematics, like me. There is a great synergy in this potential partnership and they said they hoped to meet with me at the 10th World Congress of Herpetology in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo in August and they also extended an invitation for me to visit Chengdu.” 

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