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Insect list from the Malay Archipelago

Insect list from the Malay Archipelago

Catalogue number: WP1/3/72

Annotated list by Wallace, sent to his entomologist friend Henry Walter Bates with details of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, dated January 1858.

This annotated list was probably part of a letter sent to Henry Walter Bates. Wallace presents a table of the places he visited in the Eastern Malay Archipelago, the time spent there and a list of Coleoptera (beetle) species collected. He also wrote a list of the Lepidoptera (butterflies).

Wallace announced to Bates, 'I surpass you considerably in the number of species...' and wondered whether this meant there were really fewer insect species in South America (where Bates was collecting) or whether Bates had just focused on collecting the more interesting butterflies, ignoring smaller insects. He suggested Bates should spend a month searching exclusively for Hymenoptera (bees and ants) and Diptera (flies) to settle the matter. Wallace often exchanged insect lists with Bates, as he too was a keen entomologist (someone who studies insects).

There was a little competition between Wallace and Bates, but purely from an eagerness to share their interest. Wallace was keen to give Bates advice to gather information and draw conclusions about the geographical distribution of animals, an area of study that Wallace pioneered.

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

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