Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892)

Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892), an English naturalist and explorer, was born in Leicester on 8th February 1825. At the age of thirteen he became apprentice to a hosier. He studied in his spare time, and collected insects in Charnwood Forest. In 1843 he published a short paper on beetles in The Zoologist magazine. He became friends with Alfred Russel Wallace, who was also a keen entomologist, and after reading William H. Edwards' book on his Amazon expedition they decided to visit the region themselves. On May 28th 1848, they arrived at Pará, Brazil, near the mouth of the Amazon River.

Wallace returned in 1852, but lost his collection in a shipwreck. Bates stayed in South America and explored almost the entire Amazon valley. When he arrived home eleven years later, in 1859, he had sent back over 14,000 species (mostly insects) of which 8,000 were new to science. Henry Bates is also known for his support for Darwin's and Wallace's theory of evolution by natural selection. His own theory of mimicry, which now bears his name (Batesian Mimicry), provided evidence for evolution by natural selection.

After his return to England he worked on Lepidoptera, and later Coleoptera; unable to work on both at once, he sold his Lepidoptera and subsequently concentrated mostly on cerambycids, carabids, and cicindelids, describing many hundreds of new species. In 1861 he married Sarah Ann Mason. From 1864 onwards, he worked as assistant secretary of the Royal Geographical Society.

In 1863 he published his only paper on mantids. Two years later, in 1865, he published a significant paper on phasmids.  Bates was President of the Royal Entomological Society of London 1868-1869 and again in 1878-1879. In 1881 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He died of bronchitis on 16th February 1892.

The mantis Popa batesi Saussure & Zehntner, 1895 is named after Bates, as are three stick insects, one earwig, four Orthoptera, and many other animals.


Bates, H.W. (1863) On some insects collected in Madagascar by Mr. Caldwell. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 472-479.

Bates, H.W. (1865) Descriptions of fifty-two new species of Phasmidae from the collection of Mr. W. Wilson Saunders, with remarks on the family. Transactions of the Linnaean Society of London, 25(1) 321 359 & plates 44-45.

Thu, 2008-08-21 02:49 -- pbragg
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