Archbold Expedition to New Guinea (5th : 1956-1957)
- Existence: 1956 - 1957
The fifth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea continued the systematic exploration and collection of the biological footprint in the region of New Guinea, Malaysia and Australia (1, 1955, p. 33). This area of investigation neatly supplemented the previous Archbold expeditions. At the close of the fourth endeavor the team collected on Goodenough Island in the D'Entrecasteax Island group. This new expedition would continue to explore these islands and expand to other island groups off the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea, which had previously not been biologically explored, covering a wide range of habitat types (2). Led by Leonard Brass, the expedition team was in the field from March to December of 1956 and concluded in early 1957.
- 1956 March-April
- Leonard Brass arrives in March and begins organizing supplies and hiring. Evennett is hired and Russell Peterson arrives in April.
- 1956 April-July
- Collecting in Normanby and Fergusson Islands of the D'Entrecasteaux Group, return to Samarai.
- 1956 July-October
- Collecting in Misima Island, Sudest, Joe's Landing, Mt. Riu, Ramboso and Rossel Island in the Louisiade Archipelago.
- 1956 November
- Collecting at Woodlark Island, return to Samarai via Normanby.
- 1956 December
- Separate collecting parties to the Trobriands and Dawa Dawa. Peterson leaves for the United States on the 28th.
- 1957 January
- Brass returns to Port Moresby to complete work and leaves for the United States on the 12.
Brass was an Australian botanist and longtime collaborator with Richard Archbold and the Archbold Expeditions. He was the Associate Curator of the Archbold Collections at the American Museum of Natural History Department of Mammalogy, and had participated in all the previous Archbold-sponsored New Guinea expeditions, the two most recent trips as leader. Accompanying Brass as zoologist was AMNH Department of Mammals staff member Russell Peterson. The collecting focus for the expedition was plants and mammals, but ancillary specimens of reptiles, amphibians, freshwater fishes, insects, spiders and crustaceans would also be collected .An agreement was made with the United States Army Medical Research Unit to cull mammalian ectoparasites (3, 1959, p. 8). The zoological specimens went to the separate scientific departments at AMNH; mammalian specimens were absorbed into the museum-housed Archbold Collections. Plant specimens were to be given to the Rijksherbarium in Leiden. Through an arrangement with the Administration of the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, duplicate specimens would be gifted to that country for their scientific institutions (4, 1959, p. 8). Plant samples were distributed to various other institutions, including the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard and the Fairside Tropical Garden in Florida (5, 1959, p. 66).
The team was joined by New Guinea resident Lionel J. Evennett, who was hired as transport manager but who also proved valuable as hunter and for his fluency in many local dialects (6, 1959, p. 7). Native staff members included Evennett's personal servant Tinker, as well as 10 assistants. Three of these men were Liklik and Isulele of Fergusson Island and Goodenough Islander Kim, who had participated in the previous expedition (7, 1959, p. 7). A series of short-term helpers and porters also worked on the expedition. Locals hosted the expeditionary team which also received assistance and cooperation from local police and administrative bodies.
Because the area being explored was primarily island based, the team used a series of chartered boats to travel and to transport supplies and collections. They primarily traveled inland by foot and to higher altitudes (8). Main collecting locations were various camps on Normanby and Fergusson Islands in the D'Entrecasteaux group, Misima, Sudest, and Rossel Islands in the Louisiade Archipelago, and Woodlark Island. Collections were also made on Kiriwina Island in the Trobriand Island group, on the mainland near their supply base at Samarai, and other locations in Milne and Modewa Bay. The expedition was fruitful for the AMNH collections, providing 2657 plants, 1382 mammals, 20 birds, 72,257 insects and spiders, 907 reptiles and amphibians, 57 fishes, and 66 crustaceans, as well as geological and native artifacts and a large photographic record (9, 1959, p. 66). Among the notable zoological items in the collection were a dugong fetus, tree climbing rats, bandicoots and extensive bat specimens (10, 1956, p. 12).
SOURCES (1) American Museum of Natural History, 87th Annual Report. New York: AMNH, 1956.
(2) American Museum of Natural History, "Museum Expedition Returns from one of World’s Least explored areas." [press release], 2/22/57, in expedition files at AMNH Research Library.
(3) L. J. Brass, "Results of the Archbold Expeditions No. 79: Summary of the Fifth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea (1956-1957)," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 118, article 1, 1959.
(8) American Museum of Natural History, "Museum Expedition Returns from one of World’s Least explored areas." [press release], 2/22/57, in expedition files at AMNH Research Library.
(9) L. J. Brass, "Results of the Archbold Expeditions No. 79: Summary of the Fifth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea (1956-1957)," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 118, article 1, 1959.
(10) American Museum of Natural History, 88th Annual Report. New York: AMNH, 1957.
Papua New Guinea
- Note: Expedition site
- Note: Expedition site
- Note: Expedition site