Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 339–349 | Cite as

Alfred Russel Wallace deserves better

  • David LloydEmail author
  • Julian Wimpenny
  • Alfred Venables


During 2009, while we were celebrating Charles Darwin and his The origin of species, sadly, little was said about the critical contribution of Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) to the development of the theory of evolution. Like Darwin, he was a truly remarkable nineteenth century intellect and polymath and, according to a recent book by Roy Davies (The Darwin conspiracy: origins of a scientific crime), he has a stronger claim to the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection than has Darwin. Here we present a critical comparison between the contributions of the two scientists. Sometimes referred to as ‘The other beetle-hunter’ and largely neglected for many decades, Wallace had a far greater experience of collecting and investigating animals and plants from their native habitats than had Darwin. He was furthermore much more than a pioneer biogeographer and evolutionary theorist, and also made contributions to anthropology, ethnography, geology, land reform and social issues. However, being a more modest, self-deprecating man than Darwin, and lacking the latter’s establishment connections, Wallace’s contribution to the theory of evolution was not given the recognition it deserved and he was undoubtedly shabbily treated at the time. It is time that Wallace’s relationship with Darwin is reconsidered in preparation for 2013, the centenary of Wallace’s death, and he should be recognized as at least an equal in the Wallace-Darwin theory of evolution.


Darwin evolution natural selection Wallace 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biosciences (Microbiology)Cardiff UniversityCardiffWales, UK

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