The Malay Archipelago

The Malay Archipelago

Alfred Russel Wallace

Language: English

Pages: 561


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Malay Archipelago is an extraordinarily accessible book written by noted British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. A century and a half after it was published, this book remains one of the great classics of natural history and travel, on par with Charles Darwin's work. Full of a wealth of detail about pre-modern life in the Indonesian archipelago, The Malay Archipelago is a fascinating look at natural selection.

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larger than the coconut tree, although rarely so tall, and having immense pinnate spiny leaves, which completely cover the trunk till it is many years old. It has a creeping root-stem like the Nipa palm, and when about ten or fifteen years of age sends up an immense terminal spike of flowers, after which the tree dies. It grows in swamps, or in swampy hollows on the rocky slopes of hills, where it seems to thrive equally well as when exposed to the influx of salt or brackish water. The midribs of

knew how few Europeans had ever beheld the perfect little organism I now gazed upon, and how very imperfectly it was still known in Europe. The emotions excited in the mind of a naturalist, who has long desired to see the actual thing which he has hitherto known only by description, drawing, or badly-preserved external covering—especially when that thing is of surpassing rarity and beauty—require the poetic faculty fully to express them. The remote island in which I found myself situated, in an

length and breadth of our land. These beauties are all common. They are characteristic of the country and the climate; they have not to be sought for, but they gladden the eye at every step. In the regions of the equator, on the other hand, whether it be forest or savannah, a sombre green clothes universal nature. You may journey for hours, and even for days, and meet with nothing to break the monotony. Flowers are everywhere rare, and anything at all striking is only to be met with at very

climbing trees. It has been supposed that these tree-kangaroos are a special adaptation to the swampy, half-drowned forests of New Guinea, to place of the usual form of the group, which is adapted only to dry ground. Mr. Windsor Earl makes much of this theory, but, unfortunately for it, the tree-kangaroos are chiefly found in the northern peninsula of New Guinea, which is entirely composed of hills and mountains with very little flat land, while the kangaroo of the low flat Aru Islands (Dorcopsis

for the Javanese species being different.1 In my more special pursuits, I had very little success upon the mountain, owing, perhaps, to the excessively unpropitious weather and the shortness of my stay. At from 7,000 to 8,000 feet elevation, I obtained one of the most lovely of the small fruit pigeons (Ptilonopus roseicollis), whose entire head and neck are of an exquisite rosy pink colour, contrasting finely with its otherwise green plumage; and on the very summit, feeding on the ground among

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