Natural Selection was proposed jointly by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin on this day 150 years ago.

Darwin discovered the principle of Natural Selection, and worked it out, over several decades prior. Meanwhile A.R. Wallace also came up with Natural Selection as the mechanism for what he was seeing in the wild. Some time in June it became known to Darwin that this guy Wallace as about to roll into town and present his theory. By July 1st, a deal was worked out.

They famously decided to present Wallace’s essay (without first asking his permission!), along with two unpublished excerpts from Darwin’s writings on the subject, to a meeting of the Linnean Society of London on July 1st 1858. These documents were published together in the Society’s journal a month later as the paper “On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties; And On the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection”. Darwin’s contributions were placed before Wallace’s essay, thus emphasising Darwin’s priority to the idea. Wallace later grumbled that his essay “…was printed without my knowledge, and of course without any correction of proofs”, contradicting Lyell and Hooker’s statement in their introduction to the joint papers that “…both authors…[have]…unreservedly placed their papers in our hands”. *

This is all described in an essay, published only moments ago, at The Beagle Project. The essay ius by George Beccaloni, who is known as Wllace’s Rottweiler, and can be read here.

There is also an essay called “A Sesquicentennial: Wallace and Darwin at the Linnean Society” by The Austringer (whom I saw at the Evolution 2008 meetings, but only got to speak with for a second, much to my disappointment).

More information on natural selection:

The Three Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Natural Selection

The Modes of Natural Selection

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  1. #1 Don Moyer
    July 1, 2008

    This old unreconstructed physicist deems evolution by natural selection the greatest advance in understanding our world to date. Happy Birthday! And thanks for an excellent post. Don