For this episode of Object Matters host Dr Craig Barker is joined by zoologist and 2023 Macleay Miklouho-Maclay Fellow Dr Angel Luis Viloria Petit, who has recently completed his research in Sydney, examining historic collections of butterflies. 

The Chau Chak Wing Museum houses the natural history collection of Alexander Macleay (1767-1848) largely amassed prior to his arrival in the colony of NSW in 1826. Many of the insects were acquired by Macleay from other naturalists, including Dru Drury (1725-1804) who published three volumes on butterflies. In his three months in Sydney, Venezuelan-based Dr Viloria has examined thousands of specimens in the collection and has successfully identified more than 260 primary type specimens, many from Drury's collections dating back to the 1770-1790s, identifiable from hand-painted illustrations from within those publications.

Together they discuss Angel's career and research, the history of insect collecting, and early European collectors and the process of identifying primary type specimens in two hundred year old collections of butterflies using historical hand-painted illustrations.

Read more on Dr Viloria's research while in Sydney.

Guest: Dr Angel Viloria is a zoologist and entomologist at the Ecological Centre in Caracas, Venezuela and Senior Researcher at the Centre of Ecology of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Investigations (IVIC), specialising in South American lepidoptera. He received a first degree in Biology from the Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela, and his Doctorate of Philosophy (zoology) from a joint program of the University of London (King’s College) and the Natural History Museum, UK. He has pursued investigations on a variety of subjects related to zoology, theoretical biogeography, history and philosophy of the biological sciences. However, his main interest is on the systematics of butterflies of Tropical America, especially the Andean browns, members of the subfamily Satyrinae. In 2019-2020 he held the Simón Bolívar Visiting Chair at the University of Cambridge. He is is author and co-author of 110+ scientific papers, 210+ popular science articles and 8 books, including the standard reference, Catalogue of the hostplants of the Neotropical butterflies.

Host: Dr Craig Barker, Head of Public Engagement, Chau Chak Wing Museum and Director, Paphos Theatre Archaeological Excavations. Follow @DrCraig_B on Twitter and Instagram.

Objects details:

The Dru Drury collection of butterflies and moths within the Macleay natural history collections

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