Well, what can we say; it’s a slow news day. These insects, however, aren’t your common-or-garden bugs. They’re 150 years old and packed with historical goodness.
The chitinous army of 219 ‘beetles, bugs and stick insects’ form part of a famous collection by the great English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Now they're back from obscurity to take their rightful place at the Natural History Museum.
A contemporary of Darwin, Wallace made significant contributions to evolutionary theory. The rediscovered bugs were his personal faves from South-East Asia and were the only portion from a much larger collection to be retained by Wallace.
Since his death, they’ve lain forgotten in an attic. That’s until Wallace’s (presumably very elderly) grandson Richard chanced across the collection. Judging by the photos, the discovery must have scared the bejesus out of him.
Because it’s not really the sort of thing you’d want to display on your mantelpiece, the insects have now been donated to the Natural History Museum. Over the years, the beasties have themselves been nibbled by indigenous creepy-crawlies, so a painstaking restoration program gave them the spit & polish needed for public presentation.
If you can’t face seeing the insects up close, you’ll be able to view the collection online, when a virtual exhibition of Wallace’s bugs goes live this summer.
Picture taken from the Natural History Museum.