The first monograph on the beetles of the northern Macaronesian islands, with many new species

Wollaston, T. V.

Coleoptera Atlantidum, being an enumeration of the coleopterous insects of the Madeiras, Salvages, and Canaries.

Published 1865
Item ID 64664

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London, John van Voorst, 1865. Thick 8vo (22.0 x 13.8 x 4.8 cm). xlvii, 526, 140 pp.; one engraved map. Publisher's blind-stamped cloth with gilt title on the spine.

The first monograph on the beetles of what is collectively known as the northern Macaronesian islands in the temperate-subtropical North Atlantic. The material was mostly collected by the author. As could be expected from rather isolated island-faunas most species described in this work are endemic. Thomas Vernon Wollaston (1822-1878) FLS published a series of eight island faunal studies, the others being on the insects of Madeira (published in 1854), the Coleoptera of Madeira in the British Museum (1857), ditto those of the Canaries (1864), and those of the Cape Verde Islands (1867), on the landshells of the Atlantic islands (1878), and on the variation of species, with especial reference to the insecta (1858). The last mentioned paper in particular is an important contribution to evolution. However, Wollaston, concluded from his researches that species were created under a divine plan to best suit local circumstances. Published in the year previous to Darwin's "On the origin of species", it was kindly received by Darwin. In turn, Wollaston, who could not shed his religious beliefs, published quite a negative review of Darwin's work. Thereafter sympathy between both men although working on much the same subject deteriorated slowly but steadily. The present work is dedicated to John Gray, "...In whose yacht I first visited the Canarian Archipelago...". Professor Ray Williams showed that this John Gray is not the British zoologist (in particular malacologist and cetaceologist) John Edward Gray (1800-1875), keeper of zoology of the British Museum in London, but John Gray (1812-1881) "...a wealthy Lancashire cotton-mill owner. He owned three yachts at various times, and belonged to the Royal Mersey Yacht Club of Liverpool and the Royal Yacht Squadronof Cowes, Isle of Wight. A keen yachtsman, artist, and a member of the Entomological Society of London, he became an expert on beetles, of which he formed a scientifically important collection. Although Gray published nothing himself, he assisted in the fieldwork of Lowe and Wollaston in remote Macaronesian archipelagos, and Clark’s entomological expeditions in Spain and Algeria, by putting his yachts at their disposal and helping with beetle-collecting" (Williams, p. 45). This study was based on over 20,000 specimens, belonging to 1,449 species described earlier, mostly by Wollaston himself but including at least seventy new species, described here in the 140 pp. appendix. Joints expertly repaired, an excellent and clean copy. Very rare. Horn-Schenkling II(4), p. 453; Williams, 2017. John Gray (1812-1881), Lancashire Cotton-mill Owner: Adventures of a Yachtsman, Artist and Entomologist [Journal of the Historic Society of Lancashire & Cheshire 166: 45-74].

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