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Turning Over New Leaf

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Second Fiddle


darwin

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.

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14 comments:

  1. Read this with interest and am prompted to seek more information. Thanks, JJ.

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  2. I watched a show on the National Geographic channel on the study of animals in the Galápagos Islands, and surrounding archipelagos. I vaguely remember, but the man who studied these same animals on different islands was trying to determine how they turned out so different yet still the same species. I think it was Wallace and not Darwin.
    Each animal would have slight variations and he concluded that they evolved as a result of their natural habitat. One had a longer beak than the other, one would be a totally different color. One island might have black Volcanic sand, the next red and so on. Well I won't bore you with how he determined their evolution. All I know is it was a lot to digest. I'm surprised I remembered that much. Evolution goes against what I was raised to believe. Yet science can explain so much. I do know this much... you can put all the pieces of a swiss army knife in a shoe box and no matter how hard you shake the box the army knife will not assemble it's self.~Ames

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  3. Reminds me of so many great business relationships, etc. There is often one person who presents themselves in a way that is more palatable and then that person gets all the credit. It is interesting- the old adage 'you catch more flies with honey' can be so true...
    BTW, I too am mixed on my feelings about the theory of evolution. Thanks for the background info.

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  4. Ever so lightly you step upon the oh so very mysterious....Evolution...I could really sink into a mass-communication about that topic... It was so good to catch your post JJ!

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  5. Karen: I did sort of slip this topic in without controversy.

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  6. How interesting, that over all this time and progress that has been made human nature remains the same. It always will I am sure :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  7. Suze: If you do a little research, it can become quite extensive. It is interesting, indeed.

    Ames: I did not see the show, but I will try to catch it. It sounds fascinating. I know it's for another discussion, but I have always managed to understand the conflict between religion and science, and I have balanced it quite well. My readers probably wonder why I always capitalize the word Nature.

    Jasmine: Relating it to the business world does make sense. Also, read my response to Ames. I have pondered these questions philosophically.

    Miriam: I cannot disagree.

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  8. Thanks for my education for the day!

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  9. Galen: We all learn that life lesson from time to time.

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  10. Just had to let you know that you made me literally laugh out loud at the comment you left me on my blog. Not only was it funny, but I think I am so relieved to see that someone else has made it out of this type of situation and for the better. Thanks!

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  11. 'Yellow Rose' Jasmine: You are very welcome. He will be just fine.

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  12. Hi JJ .. thanks for this - Darwin I suspect brought with him the roots of society from the Midlands Enlightenment group - the movers and shakers of the time helped their fellows.

    Robert Hooke was another - done down completely by Newton - I wrote 3 posts on him .. now being restored rightfully to his place in society and history - but not being recognised as such when people mention Newton ..

    The historical background, the play I saw and then the playwright emailing me with more information as to how she came to write the play ..

    I became engaged with him - as I'd seen him described as the English Leonardo ...

    If you have time - enjoy .. cheers Hilary

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  13. JJ, a wonderful post, and deserving of more exploration! Thank you!!

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  14. Hilary: Will do. Thank you!

    Judie: Thank you. I feel that way too. When I get a chance, I would like to do more research.

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