Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 1823–7 November 1913) and Charles Darwin (12 February 1809–19 April 1882) are jointly credited with contributing the doctrine of natural selection to the scientific literature. There can be no doubt that they independently conceived of the same theory; the priority question was settled amicably by a joint publication in 1858.
Darwin has become, with considerable justification, the flag-bearer of evolution, but many of his (near-)contemporaries poured over the same questions. The obverse side of hero worship is indignation over those who were overlooked: the perniciousness of Darwinists allegedly shown by the manner in which Wallace, a formidable biogeographical scientist in his own right, was robbed of the priority credit. However, history and human relationships can be, and thankfully often are, more subtle than squabbles over priority. In reality, Darwin’s response was admirably honorable, and the real interest resides in...
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