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The Darwin -Wallace myth of 1858

  • Walter J. Bock
Review Article

Abstract

A careful reading of the 1858 papers by Charles Darwin and Alfred R. Wallace reveals that Wallace did not present a complete nomological theory of evolution and cannot be considered a co-discover of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin must have misinterpreted Wallace’s manuscript and became paranoid that Wallace came up with the same detailed theory he conceived and worked on for more than two decades. Darwin biased both Hooker and Lyell about Wallace having presented exactly the same theory that he had been developing for the past two decades, and they further biased readers of the published papers. The central point in Wallace’s paper was that modifications observed under domestication are not true evolutionary changes as they reverted back to the original condition if the domesticated form became feral. This forms the origin of the myth that both Darwin and Wallace discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection. Wallace did advocate the cause of selective agents, but not the other essential causes for phyletic evolution. Charles Darwin alone must be credited with the development of this new paradigm of biological evolution which proved to be one of the major changes in human thinking.

Keywords

Darwin Wallace 1858 papers evolutionary theory natural selection selective agents 

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Copyright information

© Zoological Society, Kolkata 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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