Archive for Wallace Line

Monitor Lizard

Posted in Animals, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by Thim Kwai

There are 73 different kinds of monitors respectively varans existing on earth. Originally monitors live in in a wide range of habitats, from deserts and savannas to the rain forests and mangrove forests of tropical countries. In Southeast Asia the most widespread kind is the water monitor (varanus salvator). This lizards can be seen quite often, particularly in urban sites in Malaysia, where they are pretty well adapted to canalization systems, living from human food remains (rubbish), other animals and scavenging. They also appear in great numbers in Bangkok’s Lumpini park with it’s bigger ponds and artificial waterways there. The big reptiles make a remarkable contrast to the surrounding recreation facilities there. A water monitor, caught by local people around Krabi, south Thailand. Either they sell him to a dealer, or they will eat him and sell the skin only. The valuable skin alone makes the lizards pursued by animal hunters for reasons of trade, but being hunted for food is another main reason. Image by Asienreisender, 2010. Since the water monitor is the second biggest kind of lizard on earth, sometimes they are confound with aligators. On the first glance, from a distance or when swimming, they indeed look similar. An average water monitor gains a size of 150cm. The biggest lizard on earh, the Komodo dragon, who lives on a group of islands in Indonesia, reaches a size of up to three meters. But there are also recorded cases of the very common water monitor reaching a size of three meters and more, though that’s very exceptional. Then they gain a weight of up to 50kg, while the more massive Komodo dragon makes it up to 70kg. Remarkable is their long tongue which looks like a snake’s one. The tongues are of the double length of their head and split up at the end. It’s their most important sense organ; they mostly orientate in their surroundings by smelling. East of the Wallace Line in the Malay Archipelago exist most of the smaller species of the generic group of monitors. That’s because in Wallacea are few carnivore living, who would be a natural enemy for the lizards. The monitors there occupy themselves the niche the absense of smaller mammal carnivores left. West of the Wallace Line are living most of the bigger monitors, particularly the water monitor, who is to find in most of Southeast Asia. A varans orientation depends very much on his tongue, with which he is collecting information about it’s surrounding. Therefore they are almost deaf. Image by Asienreisender, Penang, Malaysia, 2010 Their circulation area is around the equator, in the tropes and subtropes of Asia, Africa and Australia, but not the Americas. Being day-active, they spend nighttime in self built holes, hollow trees or similar places. Their activities are seasonal – rainy season is their “good time”, because they find plenty of food. While dry season they spend most of their time in hidden places, waiting for wet weather conditions. Monitor lizards are solitairs and usually avoid meeting each other. If it comes to the presence of two or more individuals at a place, for example due to a food resource there, it might cause a comment fighting, a ritualized fight. They don’t bite each other and usually none of the rivals will be harmed.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Monitor Lizard’. Read here the whole article on Monitor Lizard.

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Alfred Russel Wallace by Asienreisender

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2013 by Thim Kwai

In 1854 a man arrived in Singapore who can be counted as one of the greatest minds of the 19th century. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), a former land surveyor from England, who spent already a couple of years in the tropical Amazon region collecting animals came to expand his collection and studies in the Malay Archipelago. In the following eight years he made 70 journeys through the whole, huge archipelago. In 1858 he came to the clear and elaborated conclusion that animals are not representing a fixed shape and capabilities, but being highly versatile, ever adapting to their changing environments. Species are undergoing a permanent change respective development, and the driver for that change is natural selection.

Russel wrote a great deal of essays on this topic and sent letters to England to reconfirm his position. One of his pen pals was Charles Darwin, an already accepted member of the scientific community in England. Darwin became over the time more and more impressed by Wallace’s ideas, particularly when he received a letter in June 1858, in which Wallace outlined the ‘theory of evolution’. That was exactly the concept which was stored in Darwin’s drawers since 17 years, who hesitated to publish it. Wallace even used mostly the same key terms for his theory as Darwin did.

The arrival of Wallace’s letter made history. Darwin decided now to publish his main work ‘On the Origins of Species’ (1859), a book which changed the world.

Alfred Russel Wallace is the ‘man in Darwin’s shadow’, the widely forgotten co-discoverer of the ‘theory of evolution’, what was in the 19th century still called the ‘Darwin/Wallace theory of evolution’. He travelled and studied great parts of the Malay Archipelago, a huge area what is now covered by the states of Malaysia and Indonesia, and published his experiences of the journeys in his splendid two volumes ‘The Malay Archipelago’ (1869). It is one of the finest travel narratives ever written.

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This is only a part of the illustrated article on ‘Alfred Russel Wallace’. Read the whole article on Alfred Russel Wallace by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender