Posts by John Wilson
150 years ago Alfred Russel Wallace wrote about “the land of the orang-utan” and sent specimens to Liverpool
2019 is the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Alfred Russel Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago: The land of the orang-utan, and the bird of paradise. A narrative of travel, with studies of man and nature.
Although best known as the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection alongside Charles Darwin, The Malay Archipelago firmly established Wallace as one of the greatest natural history explorers.
“I recently visited the bird collection at World Museum Liverpool as part of my team’s research on the birds of Lord Howe Island. Situated in the Tasman Sea, about halfway from Australia to New Zealand, Lord Howe is home to about 350 people, and has a troubling ornithological history. First visited in 1788 (and with no evidence of pre-colonial inhabitation), it has now lost 9 species of bird, including some species and subspecies found nowhere else.
“We are beginning to study the history of these extinctions, and the biology of the birds that are now gone. Thanks to museum specimens, including several in Liverpool like the Lord Howe Gerygone, and the endemic subspecies of Metallic Starling, we can piece together when these birds disappeared, find out how unique they were, and potentially inform future plans to reintroduce closely-related species once the island’s rats and mice are eradicated (currently planned for the Austral winter of 2019).”
12 November 2018 by John Wilson
Vertebrates are animals with backbones. The vertebrate animal group (and our vertebrate zoology collections at World Museum) includes the large animals everyone’s familiar with – mammals, fishes, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Although National Museums Liverpool now has varied collections and exhibits the first museum, which later became World Museum, was a museum of vertebrates! So it’s with a huge sense of honour and great responsibility that I take on the role as the new curator of vertebrates at World Museum. I started working at World Museum in mid-September and have slowly been familiarising myself with our massive collection of animals.