Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wallace and the Bornean Bay Cat


As part of our observations of the Alfred Russel Wallace Centenary, we have an extra felid this weekend, the Bornean Bay Cat (Catopuma [or Pardofelis] badia).

It’s one the world’s rarest species of cat (see the IUCN Red List), endemic to the island of Borneo, and known (as of 2007) from only 15 localities and 10 specimens (some of the localities are sight records or photos), mostly in the center and north of the island.

Jerry has noted them here at WEIT before (here and here). Wallace’s connection to the species is that he collected the holotype specimen in Sarawak, and sent it to the British Museum in 1856, where it was received by J.E. Gray (who was also a scientific acquaintance of Darwin).

Gray hoped to study further specimens before describing it, but having received none, he finally described it in 1874 (from the wonderful Wallace Online).

To my knowledge, Wallace made only one published statement about the Bay Cat.

In the second edition of Island Life (1892), he analyzed the mammalian fauna of Borneo and concluded that its fauna must have been derived by a land connection:

"Nearly a hundred and forty species of mammalia have been discovered in Borneo, and of these more than three-fourths are identical with those of the surrounding countries, and more than one half with those of the continent. Among these are two lemurs, nine civets, five cats, five deer, the tapir, the elephant, the rhinoceros, and many squirrels, an assemblage which could certainly only have reached the country by land."

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Wallace and the Bornean Bay Cat
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