Journal of Zoology

Cover image for Vol. 292 Issue 4

Edited By: Nigel Bennett (Editor-in-Chief), Andrew Kitchener, Rob Knell, Mark-Oliver Roedel, Jean-Nicolas Volff, Jane Waterman. Reviews Editor: Steven Le Comber

Impact Factor: 2.043

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2012: 29/151 (Zoology)

Online ISSN: 1469-7998

Associated Title(s): Animal Conservation, International Zoo Yearbook

Wallace Virtual Issue


Alfred Russel Wallace Virtual IssueAlfred Russel Wallace, OM, FRS, FZS (1823–1913) was a remarkable British naturalist, explorer, geographer and anthropologist, who famously conceived the theory of evolution through natural selection in 1858, independent of Charles Darwin. Wallace published more than 800 articles as well as 22 books in his lifetime, and collected thousands of specimens of insects, shells, birds, mammals and reptiles during his expeditions to the Amazon and the Malay Archipelago (Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia), including over a thousand species new to science. In honour of the centennial of the year of his death, we have compiled this Virtual Issue of Wallace’s papers published in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, the predecessor of Journal of Zoology. The Issue also includes contributions by other scientists describing Wallace’s collections.

The selection of papers presented here, featuring birds, mammals, insects, fish and molluscs, reflect the breadth of Wallace’s contributions to zoology and biogeography. In addition to describing new species, Wallace included observations on their anatomy, appearance, behaviour and geographical distribution in relation to similar species and made suggestions as to how they should be classified. For example, it is fascinating to read Wallace, the ‘father of biogeography’, describe the distribution of different bird species on the Sula Islands in Indonesia and conclude that “it seems to me clear that the Sula Islands are really an outlying portion of Celebes, and must at some former period have had a much closer connexion with that great island than at present”. This clearly relates to his concept of the ‘Wallace Line’, a faunal boundary line that separates Asia and Australia, which is the result of historic variable land connectivity between islands in the region. In the same paper, and of particular interest to us at the Zoological Society of London, Wallace mentions that he named one of the 13 new species of birds he describes after Dr Sclater, “the indefatigable Secretary to the Zoological Society of London, to whose kind assistance and extensive knowledge of ornithology I am much indebted”.

Without a doubt, the jewel of this collection is the paper entitled ‘Narrative of Search after Birds of Paradise’, in which Wallace describes the toils and misfortunes (including disease, hunger and pirates!) he encountered during his expedition to New Guinea to collect specimens of birds of paradise, “this rare and beautiful bird”. This paper is truly fascinating: in it we can enjoy the poetic elegance of Wallace’s writing as he describes his admiration of these beautiful birds. Equally compelling is his account of the catastrophes he encountered, which allows us to experience the extent of Wallace’s dedication to his task.

We hope that you will enjoy reading this Virtual Issue and join us in celebrating Alfred Russel Wallace as one of the greatest zoologists of all time!

Elina Rantanen
Journal of Zoology
Zoological Society of London


Narrative of Search after Birds of Paradise
Alfred R. Wallace

On some Fishes allied to Gymnotus
Alfred R. Wallace

List of Species of Mammalia sent from the Aru Islands
Alfred R. Wallace and J. E. Gray

A list of the birds. with descriptions of New Species obtained by Mr. Alfred. R. Wallace in the Aru and Ké Islands
George R. Gray

Descriptions of some Butterflies from the Collection of Mr. Wallace
W. C. Hewitson

On some New and Rare Birds from New Guinea
Alfred R. Wallace

Descriptions of Three New Species of Pitta from the Moluccas
Alfred R. Wallace

List of Birds from the Sula Islands (east of Celebes), with Descriptions of the New Species
Alfred R. Wallace

List of the Land Shells Collected in the Malay Archipelago
Henry Adams and Alfred R. Wallace

Descriptions of New Birds from the Malay Archipelago
Alfred R. Wallace

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