As the year marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species winds downs, let us remember Alfred Russel Wallace, a man seemingly forgotten by most modern historians and journalists.
While Darwin’s book introduced the world to the theory of natural selection, often referred to simply as “evolution,” in 1859, it was announced to the scientific community on July 1, 1858 when the joint Darwin-Wallace paper was read to The Linnean Society of London, a forum for discussions on genetics, natural history, systematics, biology, and the history of plant and animal taxonomy.
“The accompanying papers, which we have the honour of communicating to the Linnean Society, and which all relate to the same subject, viz. the Laws which affect the Production of Varieties, Races, and Species, contain the results of the investigations of two indefatigable naturalists, Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. Alfred Wallace,” the introduction began. “These gentlemen having, independently and unknown to one another, conceived the very same, very ingenious theory to account for the appearance and perpetuation of varieties and of specific forms on the planet, may both fairly claim the merit of being original thinkers in this important line of inquiry