Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP5446

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Reginald Innes Pocock
21 October 1900

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset to Reginald Innes Pocock [none given] on 21 October 1900.

Record created:
26 September 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


On the recognition marks of animals.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP5446.6169)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Private Collection
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Thanks for your copy of "Nature" with your paper re Recognition Marks, which I had read. Although the exact purpose of the marking in individual cases can only be determined by observation of the animal’s habits in its native surroundings, yet I feel pretty sure that my general explanation is correct, because the markings agree so closely in general type in so many different groups. I do [[2]] not think the well-defined patches of white on the neck on the antelope you figure can be of the same nature as the gradually shaded white of the underside of so many mammals & birds as beautifully explained by Thayer2.

But I consider it waste of time to discuss each special case in the absence of close outdoor observation. The great number of the cases of white markings on the wings & tails of birds, & some of the white marks on the tail or rump of mammals, which are concealed [[3]] except during motion is to me conclusive of the general principle as recognition marks.

Yours very truly | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


1. The beginning of the transcript of this letter is incomplete.

2. Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921), American naturalist.

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.