Alfred Wallace’s South American butterflies rediscovered by English schoolgirl


This video is called Alfred Russel Wallace Pt1.

From the BBC:

10 September 2013 Last updated at 02:03 GMT

‘Priceless’ butterflies found at Oxford museum

By Sean Coughlan, BBC News education correspondent

An A-level student on work experience at an Oxford museum has found rare examples of butterflies lost since the 19th Century.

Athena Martin with some of the butterflies in the collection

Athena Martin, aged 17, has found butterfly specimens described as “priceless” by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

They had been brought back from South America by a Victorian naturalist.

Many of the butterflies were thought lost at sea in the 1850s.

Ms Martin’s discoveries came during the summer when she was taking part in a science-related work experience project.

Lost at sea

The school girl, who wants to study zoology at university, found and identified butterflies collected by the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

They had been buried away in more than 3,000 separate drawers of butterflies at the museum.

Painstakingly going through the collection turned up more than 300 of Wallace’s butterflies.

The biggest find made by the work experience student was a butterfly called Dismorphia, brought from the Amazon and which had remained undiscovered and unacknowledged within the museum since the end of the 19th Century.

The confusion over Wallace’s collection had been caused by a fire breaking out on his ship when he was bringing back specimens from South America in 1852 – and it had been believed that most of his butterfly collection had been lost.

“The re-discovered Amazonian specimen in particular is a significant find in terms of the history of science and natural history collecting in the 19th Century,” says Dr James Hogan of the Hope Entomological Collections, which are based at the museum.

Dutch book on Wallace: here.

Naturalist Alfred Wallace on the Internet


This video is called Operation Wallacea – Indonesia schools expedition.

From Wildlife Extra:

Historic collection of naturalist Alfred Wallace goes online for the first time

Treasure-trove of writings and images by the co-discoverer of natural selection

October 2012. The complete works of the great naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace have been made freely available online on the Wallace Online website.

First announcement of the theory of evolution by natural selection

Amongst the thousands of pages of writings, it includes the first announcement of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Wallace and Darwin

Since the scientist’s death 99 years ago, Wallace’s complete publications have never been gathered together. The new website is unveiled in time for the centenary celebrations in 2013 that mark the anniversary of Wallace’s death in 1913.

Back in the 1850s, Wallace independently formulated the theory of evolution by natural selection during a fit of tropical fever. He later sent an outline of the theory – in one of the greatest ironies in history – to Charles Darwin. To avoid a priority dispute, papers by both men were read together at a London scientific meeting in July 1858. The event unleashed the Darwinian revolution whose shockwaves continue to this day.

Wallace has long been in the shadow of his more famous contemporary Charles Darwin. The compilation of this new website is timely and long overdue. It provides 28,000 pages of searchable historical documents and 22,000 images. They can now be seen free of charge by anyone around the globe at Wallace Online.

Wallace’s contributions to biodiversity

Wallace spent four years as a collector in Brazil (1848-1853) and eight years in Southeast Asia (1854-1862). In addition to collecting an astonishing 125,000 specimens of insects and birds, Wallace proposed a sharp dividing line between the Asian and Australian animals in the archipelago. This line still bears his name today and is called The Wallace Line.

One of the most influential scientists in history

Dr van Wyhe, project director, said: “Wallace was one of the most influential scientists in history. But until now, it has been impossible to see all of his writings. For the first time, this collection allows anyone to search through his writings about Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, and see many of the birds and insects that he collected.”

Dr van Wyhe holds a joint appointment as Senior Lecturer at NUS’ Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of History, under Faculty of Science and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, respectively. He is also the founder and director of the award-winning Darwin Online at the University of Cambridge, UK.

This project was directed by historian Dr John van Wyhe from the National University of Singapore (NUS). The Wallace Online project was made possible by an anonymous grant from an American donor.