historical figures in evolution

Evolution in Darwin´s Lifetime: Alfred Wallace


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Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913)

Wallace was an English naturalist who traveled extensively, first to Brazil and then to the Indonesian archipelago, collecting and studying local specimens. He is considered the co-discoverer of natural selection together with Charles Darwin. When Wallace was ready to publish his theory, he wrote a letter to Darwin giving him the news. Darwin had spent 20 years developing his theory and had not published it yet for fear of the public reaction and especially that of his wife. Wallace’s theory was presented in London at the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858, along with Darwin’s theory. In fact, the two ideas differ to some degree: Darwin went much further than Wallace. Wallace set a limit to natural selection when it came to humans.

He never conceived the human soul as a result of evolution; he claimed it had a divine origin. On the other hand, Darwin knew well that man is just another primate. All the features of our species, without any exception, must have been the result of adaptations. Besides, Wallace never supported sexual selection; he never reached an agreement with Darwin on this topic.

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