Stevens, Samuel. (1850). Journey to explore the natural history of the Amazon River. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History including Zoology, Botany and Geology, Series 2, 6: 494-495. [p. 494-495]
Transcriber: Smith, Charles Hyde
Transcription date: May 23, 2012
Scrutiny: 15/01/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
[]1 [p. 494]
Santarem, Nov. 15, 1849 (500 miles above Parà).
"I spent about three weeks at Montealegre and have now been back here nearly a month, so before I leave for the Rio Negro I send you a small lot of insects; they consist almost entirely of Lepidoptera, the Beetles not yet having made their appearance; in the wet season I hear there are plenty both at Montealegre and here, so I shall probably return here, unless I meet with something much better to keep me up above. Of the boxes sent, Nos. 1 and 2 only are for you to dispose of. Your lot, though a small one, I trust will be found a good one; there are a very considerable number of fresh species, one of which (No. 6051) is, I think, the most beautiful thing I have yet taken; it is very difficult to capture, settling almost invariably high up [] [p. 495] in trees; two specimens I climbed up after and waited for; I then adopted a long pole which I left at a tree they frequented, and by means of persevering with it every day for near a month have got a good series: the sexes I have no doubt whatever about, though I have not taken them in copula; the female flies lower and is easier to take than the male. The allied species (6062) was rather abundant at Montealegre; the orange Heliconia-like insect occurred there plentifully. Of all new species and others which I know to be good, I have sent plenty; of old things I have sent a few only.
"In the Erycinidae there are a great many species fresh to me, and I hope some new to Europe: I have now made descriptions of all the species sent, so that should I be obliged again to send home my duplicates or lose any of them, I can still recognize the species. The handsome species I hope will sell well. In box No. 3 I have put a lot of miscellaneous insects, which please take out and dispose of. There is also a small stuffed alligator, a species I think they have not in the Museum; it is the Jacare tinga, of which the tail is eaten and is very good; they are an immense deal of trouble in skinning. I have sent also a larger one, which I think is the common species; also a tortoise-shell and a few vertebrae of the large alligator of the Amazon I have put in to fill up; perhaps they may be interesting to geologists to compare with those of fossil Sauria. Shells there are none here. There are two painted calabashes in paper with your name outside; please accept them as a specimen of the Indian girls’ work at Montealegre; the varnish, colours, &c., are all made by themselves from the leaves and bark of different trees and herbs; they paint them with bits of stick and feathers, and the patterns are all their own design; they are the usual drinking-vessels here, but less ornamented for common use. I am much in want of some work on the species of butterflies; I think the ‘Encyclopédie Méthodique,’ vol. ix. by Godart, is the only thing that will do. The leaf in the box is a segment of Victoria regia; if any one wants it, you may sell it."
1. This beautiful species I find to be the rare Callithea Sapphira, Hub, of which hitherto only one example appears to have existed in the collections in this country. [on p. 494]
1. Editor Charles H. Smith’s Note: Extracts from letters sent to Samuel Stevens, and printed in the December 1850 issue of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History.
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