How Great Wings Can Look Alike

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Science  26 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6046, pp. 1100-1101
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211025

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In 1859, English naturalist Henry Walter Bates left Brazil after 11 strenuous, danger-filled, but blissful years of exploring and collecting in the Amazon. Despite all of the privations he had suffered, the self-taught amateur dreaded exchanging a land of “perpetual summer,” “endless streams,” and “boundless forests” for the “gloomy winters,” “murky atmosphere,” and “factory chimneys” of England (1). But Bates's return home could not have been timed better. Just as he began to sort out his vast collections, Darwin's On the Origin of Species appeared and gave him a framework for everything that he had seen in the jungle. Well, almost everything; Bates soon realized that he had noticed some things that had escaped the great Darwin's attention but that could lend support to Darwin's controversial new theory of natural selection.