Tiny Indonesia islands to honor British naturalist

Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:07am EST
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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's remote Moluccas islands plans to build a museum and an observatory in honor of British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who in the 19th century spent many years in the area doing pioneering field work. Wallace was a leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and proposed a theory of natural selection around the same time his better known compatriot Charles Darwin published his famous theory in "On The Origin of Species."

"We respect Wallace and his work. He is like a Ternate native that was born in Britain," Barham Dayan, the head of Ternate city administration's political unit, said.

Ternate, the provincial capital of North Moluccas, plans to start constructing a museum and a monument on the site of Wallace's former home next year, as well as an observatory to research animal species in eastern Indonesia, Dayan said.

The city has also named a street after Wallace.

Wallace wrote an account of his scientific exploration in the area entitled the "The Malay Archipelago."

The Welsh-born naturalist is also famous for identifying the "Wallace Line," a boundary separating eastern and western Indonesia into areas of different species.

(Reporting by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Ed Davies and Sanjeev Miglani)