Alfred Wallace

Another Theory of Natural Selection

Today is the birthday of the British naturalist Alfred Wallace. Wallace developed his theory of natural selection quite independently of Charles Darwin - although he did send his theory to Darwin. Wallace’s work prompted Darwin to get serious about publishing his 20-year-old idea. In 1858, both Wallace and Darwin’s work was presented to the Linnaean Society.
Wallace published a remarkable book called The Malay Archipelago.  The book is considered a classic and covers the flora, fauna, and folks native to the area - now known as Malaysia and Indonesia.
Wallace wrote,

"Nature seems to have taken every precaution that these, her choicest treasures, may not lose value by being too easily obtained."

 Wallace has been obscured by Darwin over the course of history. Yet, when he died at the age of 91, his obituaries praised him as an extraordinary figure. One obituary said,

"He was one of the greatest and brightest and clearest thinkers of his age...of one thing I am certain, and that is that never has anybody come more fully within my favorite description of a great man, namely, that 'he is a combination of the head of a man and the heart of a boy.'”

A forthcoming children's book about Wallace is titled Darwin's Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the search for evolution by Christian Dorian.

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Alfred Wallace
Alfred Wallace

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