New tour marks life of Usk scientist

2:40pm Tuesday 18th February 2014

THE life of an Usk-born scientist, credited with discovering natural selection, is the subject of a new tour.

Avid collector Alfred Russel Wallace, who died a century ago and was born at Kensington House in Llanbadoc, near Usk, is credited with co-discovering the theory of evolution by natural selection in the Malay Archipelago with Charles Darwin in 1858.

He carried out pioneering work in south-east Asia from 1854 to 1862 and among his discoveries was the Wallace Line – where species from either side of the line are of two distinct origins.

From this period, he collected more than 120,000 specimens of insects, birds and other animals, including more than 5,000 that were new to science – the bulk of these are cared for by the Natural History Museum.

Naturalists Dr George Beccaloni, the museum’s entomologist and founder and chairman of Wallace’s Memorial Fund, and Jan Beccaloni, who is the curator of spiders and their relatives at the museum and secretary of the Wallace Memorial Fund, will lead the Jon Baines Tours which follow in the footsteps of Mr Wallace.

The tour, in September, will travel through the cultures and landscapes of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It will begin in Kuching on the Sarawak before moving on to the jungle-clad peaks of Gunung Gading National Park, where the star attraction is the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower.

The tour includes a visit to the Semmenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary, a boat trip into the Baku National Park and Singapore’s Science Centre, where there is a Wallace exhibition. This is followed by Manadao in northern Sulawesi and the Bunaken Marine Reserve, Tangkoko National Park and the cone-shaped island of Ternate.

Visit www.jonbainestours.com

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