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Specimens of Asian beetles

Specimens of Asian beetles

Catalogue number: Drawer 25

Wallace's specimens of stag beetles, weevils and chafers, some of which are illustrated in his book The Malay Archipelago.

This drawer contains 80 south-east Asian beetles. There are stag beetles (Lucanidae), weevils (Curculionoidea), chafers (Cetoniinae), jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and others. The specimens in this drawer were badly damaged by pests when the Museum received them. They were painstakingly restored by the curator responsible for the collection.

Wallace collected thousands of insects during his expedition around the Malay Archipelago (1854-1862). On his return Wallace wrote a book that detailed his journey and the natural history of the area. The small male stag beetle Cyclommatus tarandus from Borneo, seen at the top-middle of the drawer, is probably the actual specimen illustrated in figure 4 of The Malay Archipelago. In addition, the enormous male long-armed chafer (Euchirus longimanus) in the centre of this drawer is the specimen illustrated in The Malay Archipelago (Fig. 33, with the caption 'Moluccan Beetles', page 401). Wallace also recounts his observations of this species in Amboyna (Ambon): '...this extraordinary insect is rarely or never captured except when it comes to drink the sap of the sugar palms, where it is found by the natives when they go early in the morning to take away the bamboos which have been filled during the night...they are sluggish insects, and pull themselves lazily along by means of their immense forelegs'.

Another noteworthy specimen collected by Wallace is the Bornean stag beetle Odontolabis brookeana located to the right of Cyclommatus tarandus. It was named after Wallace's friend Sir James Brooke, the Rajah of Sarawak, with whom he stayed while visiting Borneo.

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Wallace Letters Online

Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.

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