Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Discussion of a Paper on Madeiran Coleoptera
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Wallace's comments on a paper by T. Vernon Wollaston read at
the Entomological Society of London meeting of 20 March 1871, with Wallace in the Chair (he
was President of the Society that year). Wollaston was trying to argue that Madeira had once
been connected to the mainland via a land bridge. Printed later that year on page xiii of the
Society's Proceedings for 1871. To link directly to this page, connect with:
The President said it was impossible with him to overcome the geological difficulty in the
way of a supposed former land-connection; for though he could readily believe in great elevation
or depression, either continuous or alternate, yet it was a generally received opinion that the great
depths between these islands and the continent of Europe had existed since the secondary period.
The example of Keeling Island, as noticed by Mr. Murray, was of little importance, because,
being a coral island, it was of very recent date, and, as there was little variety of vegetation, it
was impossible for the insects to show great increase; but, let the island become more elevated,
and its flora more varied, then its few involuntary insect immigrants would each become the
nucleus of a group of generic forms. Mr. Murray had not explained the greatest objection to Mr.
Wollaston's theory, the wonderful absence in the Atlantic Islands of indigenous mammals and
reptiles, which, if the islands be the remnants of a once-existing continent, ought certainly to be
represented; neither did he account for the absence of the apterous groups of bulky European
heteromerous beetles, such as Pimelia, &c., an absence the more remarkable in the face of the
fact that genera, and even species, of other families, become apterous in the islands, though they
are winged in Europe.
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