Wednesday, January 11, 2012
When most people hear the term evolution, they conjure up the name Darwin. He is the genius behind the modern theories of evolution – or is he?
Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 – 1913), a British naturalist, anthropologist, and biologist is best known for independently proposing a theory of evolution due to natural selection that prompted Charles Darwin to publish his own theory. Together, they presented their theories to the world in 1858, but for a myriad of reasons, Wallace never became a British science insider, and Charles Darwin received all the credit for their combined efforts.
Wallace extensively explored remote areas of the planet, such as the Amazon River basin and the Malay Archipelago, where he identified what has become known as the Wallace Line that divides the Indonesian archipelago. He is considered the 19th century's leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species, and is sometimes called the "father of biogeography." In addition to these achievements, Wallace was a leading evolutionary thinker of his time and made a number of contributions to the development of evolutionary theory, besides being co-discoverer of natural selection.
However, Wallace proved to be controversial and unconventional in his thinking, and as a result, he strained his relationship with the scientific establishment, especially with other proponents of evolution. Furthermore, he became a social activist, critical of the British economic system.
I guess evolution is a slow process. Not much has changed in Western society in 150 years.