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Annotated proof print of an orang-utan

Annotated proof print of an orang-utan

Catalogue number: WP6/6/4(6)

Annotated proof print illustration of an orang-utan for Wallace's book Studies Scientific and Social, undated, circa 1900.

This proof print shows an illustration of an old male orang-utan, labelled as Simia satyrus (Bornean orang-utan, now called Pongo pygmaeus). The annotations are by Wallace, in preparation for his book Studies Scientific and Social (published in 1900). The book was made up mainly of reprints of important articles written by Wallace over the 35 years from 1865 to 1899. As the title suggests, this covered a broad range of topics that held Wallace's interest, for example geology, animal and plant distribution, anthropology and evolution.

Wallace described the orang-utan: 'Though very large and powerful, it is a harmless creature, feeding on fruit, and never attacking any other animal except in self-defence' (page 157). Wallace had first-hand experience of these apes and recounts his time collecting in Borneo during his Malay Archipelago expedition.

The illustration was included in volume one, chapter seven 'Monkeys: Their Affinities and Distribution' (fig. 7, page 162). The original paper was published in Contemporary Review (December 1881). Wallace wrote 'Huxley's "Man's Place in Nature"' at the top of the proof print. This refers to the origin of the illustration: T.H. Huxley's Man's Place in Nature and Other Anthropological Essays (1863).

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