Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892)

"... on these expanded membranes [i.e., butterfly wings] Nature writes, as on a tablet, the story of the modifications of species, so truly do all changes of the organisation register themselves thereon. Moreover, the same colour-patterns of the wings generally show, with great regularity, the degrees of blood-relationship of the species. As the laws of nature must be the same for all beings, the conclusions furnished by this group of insects must be applicable to the whole world." (1863)

British naturalist, primarily an entomologist, who also made large general collections of Amazonian animals during 14 years of field work. Bates, already a diehard beetle collector, became friends with Wallace while they were both living in the English countryside and then set out with him to become a professional collector in the Amazon in 1848. When Wallace returned to England and then went on to Indonesia, Bates stayed in the Amazon but continued to correspond, encouraging Wallace's developing theories on organic evolution. Bates discovered that closely related species often were separated geographically by rivers, and later realized that this was evidence of geographical speciation. His 1862 study of color patterns in butterflies established what is now called Batesian mimicry, in which non-poisonous animals mimic the bright warning colors of poisonous animals. Bates argued that this kind of mimicry could not be produced by Lamarckian use-inheritance and was clear evidence of selection. Elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1881.


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