Wallace and the Challenger Expedition of 1872–76

I recently noticed that Wallace's annotated copy of the "Report on the scientific results of the voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76. Deep-sea deposits" is for sale on the Internet - see it HERE. The Challenger expedition was a huge, very expensive, and highly successful expedition which laid the foundations of oceanography - for more information click HERE and HERE. Findings from the expedition continued to be published until 1895, 19 years after the completion of its journey. The report contained 50 volumes and was over 29,500 pages in length!

Looking on the Web for more information I was surprised to find that Wallace was part of the committee of distinguished scientists set up by the Royal Society to advise the Admiralty about what research should be done and where. The Circumnavigation Committee consisted of "the President and Officers [of the Royal Society], Dr. Carpenter, Dr. Frankland, Dr. Hooker, Professor Huxley, the Hydrographer of the Admiralty, Mr. Gwyn Jeffreys, Mr. Siemens, Sir William Thomson, Dr. Wyville Thomson, Dr. Williamson, and Mr. Alfred R. Wallace..." [Dr. Allman1 joined later] (see THIS BOOK). The committee produced a report in 1872 regarding "the objects of research which the Royal Society have in view with reference to the intended voyage...", one of which was "The Hydrographic examination of 'Wallace's line' in the Malay Archipelago, and of the littoral faunas on the opposite sides of the line". This was said to be "of great importance, considering the significance of that line as a boundary between two Distributional provinces." I wonder whether it was Wallace who suggested this, or whether the Royal Society chose him to sit on the committee because of his discovery of the 'Line' and his work on biogeography?


1. A medal Allman was awarded for his work on Challenger was recently sold on Ebay.

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