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Record number: WCP781

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
George Robert Waterhouse
8 May 1855

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Simunjon [Simunjan] coal works, Sarawak, Borneo Island, [Malaysia] to George Robert Waterhouse [none given] on 8 May 1855.

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM
Verified by:
22/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


Thanks for Waterhouse's report on ARW's Singapore Curculionidae - ARW's collecting activities and plans of a visit to Celebes and his quest for the Orang-utan, etc.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP781.953)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418279
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate
Record scrutiny:
22/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Physical description

Transcription information




Si Munjon Coal Works n[ea]r. Sarawak

May 8th. 1855.

My dear Sir

I should have written before to acknowledge receipt of your letter containing your report on my Singapore Curculionidae, and thank you for the trouble you took. I assure you it was most interesting & agreeable to me to find that so many of my insects were new, and has given me much encouragement to persevere in my search after the smaller species. You will probably already have heard through Mr Stevens that I have found another good locality here! which I continue to work very hard at. Curculionidae altogether do not bear quite so large a proportion to the other families as at Singapore, neither are the Anthribidae so numerous among them, but there is still a great number of fine things. Of Cerastonema[?] I have two or three species all I think different from the beautiful one which you were so kind as to name after me. Micocerus Gazella is very abundant, and there [[2]] is another closely allied species which I hope may be new. The colouring of these insects is remarkably sober & untropical -- Out of about 220 species of Rhyncophora which I have obtained here I have not one with metallic colours, nor indeed with any brilliant colours at all. I long to get into a country where I should find the beautiful Pachyrhychus or something like it, perhaps I shall in Celebes or the Moluccas.

To turn from small beasts to large, I am now of course much interested in the "Mias" or Orang Outan & hope to determine the question satisfactorily of one two -- three species[.] The three reputed species are found here & I think in two - three months I am sure to get adults of each for examination. I do not know whether you consider the three species as proved by the sculls[sic], but it seems extraordinary that Temminck1 with the mass of materials at [1 illeg. word deleted] his disposal should dispute it. At present my own opinion is that the small species Simia Morio (Owen) is undoubtedly distinct I have seen the young of this & of a larger species [[3]] and when fresh killed they could readily be distinguished though perhaps not by the stuffed skins. Of the existence of two larger species known by the single & double crested sculls[sic] I think there is still much doubt & this I hope to set at rest. The living animals are said to be distinguished by the presence or absence of the cheek callosities -- now the callosities do not seem do not seem always to accompany the same form of scull[sic]. Sir J. Brooke says the animal with cheek callosities has a double crested scull[sic]. Blyth says the same, but Temminck2 has many skins with cheek callosities & the sculls[sic] belonging to them but out of a large series only one double crested scull[sic]. Blyth says all the skeletons in Europe have the single crested scull[sic] -- yet the animal has always been known by its cheek callosities as in the B[ritish]. M[useum]. specimens -- This would show that either the crests or the callosities or both are variable, & this I hope to be able to determine. I have got some sculls[sic] & skeletons from the Dyaks & have myself shot two small animals, but have not [[4]] yet seen an adult of either species. I have however come to this place on purpose to get them, & as it is a good locality for insects I shall remain quietly for four or six months if necessary to settle this most interesting zoological question -- Any hints you can give me on the subject I shall be glad of & they will probably still find me here -- I am getting also from my own observation & from the Dyaks, valuable if information as to the habits of these most strange animals. I have had positive information that a species exists in the peninsula of Malacca very near Singapore & when I return there I shall endeavour to ascertain the fact..

I remain │ yours faithfully │ Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

G.R. Waterhouse Esq.

P.S. In the Lit.[?] Gaz.[ette] you will see some account of my present locality.3


1. Coenraad Jacob Temminck (1778-1858) Dutch aristocrat and zoologist.

2. A note in the margin at this point says "See Monographies de Mammalogie".

3. A following note has been added upside down at the bottom right hand corner of the page "Mr Wallace May 8/55".

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