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BEETLES.

The Thomas Sloane Collection.

(BY R. J. TTLLYARD.)

The late Mr. Thomas G. Sloane, of Morilla Station, Young, New South Wales, was well known throughout the scientific world as an expert on certain kinds of Australian beetles.

In the "Poet at the Breakfast Table" there is a passage in which an entomolojist exclaims "I am often spoken of as a Colyopterist. but I have no right to so comprehensive a name. The genus Scarabaeus is what I have chiefly confined myself to-call me a Scarabeeist."

The late Mr. Sloane, on this principle, fully merited the title of Carabidlst, for he was an expert on the great group of ground beetles, or carabldae, and on the smaller families related to this group.

If the man in the street wants to compre- hend what the study of beetles means, let him contemplate the following figures: There are more species of insects in the world than there we of all other species of animals and plants combined. About half a million species of insects have already been scientifically described, and many more remain to be dealt with. Of these, about 42 per cent, are beetles! Australia alone possesses about 17,000 described species of beetles, and only one man, the late Mr. A. M. Lea, ever got within nodding acquaintance of most of them. The great group of Caraboid beetles, on which the late Mr. Sloane was an authority, numbered some 2000 Australian species; for the whole world, the number in this group is about 30,000. To understand thoroughly, to be able to recog- nise, classify, and name individual species in a great group of closely related forms like these, calls for scientific knowledge and dis- crimination of a high order, and the man. who gives his spare time to a hobby of this type deserves well of his country and must bo possessed, besides, of an intellect of high

order.

Mr. Sloane, in the course of his long life, gathered together an enormous collection of, Caraboid beetles. While his own collecting

was limited to the Australian continent, he was also interested in Caraboid beetles from all over the world. Some years ago, he pur- chased for £600 the Van der Poll collection of about 300 boxes of these beetles from all parts of the world, and this fine collection now forms part of the Thomas Sloane Collec- tion.

At his death, Mr. Sloane willed all his pos- sessions to his wife. He had, however, in- tended, if his health permitted, to retire to Canberra to live and to pursue his entom- ological studies there, and it was his inten- tion that his fine collection should rest finally in the museum of the Division of Economic Entomology of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in the Commonwealth capital city. Mrs. Sloane has now generously presented the collection to the council, and it has recently been moved to Canberra, where it will be kept as a separate entity alongside the Froggatt and Ferguson Collections. The scientific world will applaud Mrs. Sloane's generous act, which is in full keeping with her husband's known wishes.

The climate of Canberra is particularly good for the preservation of insect specimens, and the absence of those cabinet and museum pests which are such a source of annoyance and damage in warmer and damper climates marks the capital city out as an ideal place for the preservation of valuable insect collections in the future. __________________

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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