In 1955, when research fellow William B. Muchmore was searching for snails and salamanders in the deep, damp understory of the Huyck Preserve’s deciduous forests, he discovered several tiny pseudoscorpions hiding under some rocks. Pseudoscorpions look like miniature scorpions—minus the stingers. Though their giant crab-like claws may be scary to the arthropods they feed on, pseudoscorpions are harmless to humans. And the ones Muchmore spied were only about a 10th of an inch long. It’s a wonder, he ever saw them.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Muchmore continued to find specimens of this as yet unnamed species in New York State, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. Finally, in 1968, after exhaustive research to verify that these tiny critters were indeed a new species (out of the 3,000 already known species), he named them for the Huyck Preserve—Syarinus enhuycki—and published his findings in the Journal of the New York Entomological Society. Since then the S. enhuycki pseudoscorpions have been found all over North America, including Canada.
Muchmore, who also served on the Huyck Preserve’s Scientific Advisory Committee in the 1950s, went on to have a distinguished career as a biology professor at the University of Rochester (Rochester, N.Y.) and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on pseudoscopions. He retired several years ago and is now a professor emeritus at the university. I contacted the university’s Biology Department in hopes of reaching him and getting him to talk about his early years at the Preserve. I learned, however, that he is ill and no longer comes to the office (often emeriti faculty maintain an office on campus so they can continue their research). I wrote him a letter in September, but so far I have not received a reply.
Papers Based on Muchmore’s Work at the Huyck Preserve:
Muchmore, W.B., Brassy flecking in the salamander Plethodon c. cinereus and the validity of Plethodon huldae. Copeia 3:170-172, 1955.
Muchmore, W.B., Notes on some salamanders of Warner’s Hollow, Ashtabula County, Ohio. The Ohio Journal of Science 55:267. 1955
Muchmore, W.B., Some exotic terrestrial isopods (Isopoda: Oniscoidea) from New York State. Journal, Washington Academy of Sciences 47:78-83, 1957.
Muchmore, W.B., Land snails of the E.N. Huyck Preserve, New York. Nautilus 72:85-89. 1959
Muchmore, W.B. , A new species of Pseudoscorpion genus Syarinus (Arachnida; Chelonethida: Syarinidae) from the Northeastern United States. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 76:112-116, 1968