Wallace, the often forgotten co-discoverer of evolution

Alfred Russel Wallace. Image from: NPR, Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis Alfred Russel Wallace. Image from: NPR, Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Darwin is the more famous of the two when it comes to thinking about who came up with the theory of evolution. However, a man named Alfred Russel Wallace co-discovered the theory.

Alfred Wallace died 100 years ago. In honor of his contribution to the theory of evolution, NPR ran a wonderful story about him and his discoveries the other day. Just in case you did not get a chance to hear it, you can either read the transcript or listen to the story here.

More like this

Alfred Russel Wallace was born on this day in 1823 (he died in 1913). You know of him as the other guy who invented a theory of Natural Selection which was very like Darwin's; they published the theory together. He also spent considerable time traveling around on boats in the tropics, like…
I've finished the 5th chapter of The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, but I don't have time to put up a review right now. But I do want to comment on a funny passage: I ran into Ernst Mayr as I was completing this chapter and asked if he had ever met de Vries. "No," he said, "botanists and…
I make no secret that I admire Darwin as a historical figure very much, but I recently submitted a paper for an open access journal for science teachers at secondary level named Resonance, entitled "Not Saint Darwin". I was motivated by some of the rather uncritical, unhistorical and unnecessary…
Today marks the final day of the month in which, 150 years ago, a naturalist in what is now Indonesia wrote a letter to Charles Darwin in which he gave a theoretical account of how types can evolve by natural selection so that new species will arise. Give it up, folks, for Alfred Russel Wallace…

Reminds me of the Newton-Leibniz "controversy". From the PBS specials, it's my understanding that Newton and Darwin had developed their methods years before their "rivals", but were in no rush to publish.

Can't imagine this happening today, given the amount of competition and the stakes.

Didn't Einstein take years to publish his paper on Special Relativity? Surprising that he wasn't scooped.

"Can’t imagine this happening today, given the amount of competition and the stakes."

Really? I've just published my theory of human evolution. Nobody has noticed it so far. I suspect it could take quite a while. (The Structure of Humanity: Arranged marriage systems explain human evolution.)

Today, Wallace and Einstein wouldn't be taken seriously. They wouldn't even get published, particularly in a peer reviewed journal. Qualifications supplanted ideas a long time ago in science.

Actually, there isn't any competition for ideas these days. It's pretty rare anyone comes up with anything.
Lee Smolin wrote 'The Trouble with Physics' to reflect a generation of physicists who had come up with nothing. The same could have been said about evolutionary theorists. A person who came up with a theory today could sit on it for a decade or two, quite easily. Most scientists today are headless chickens in lab coats. Lots of activity, but no ideas.