The story of Wallace evolving
September 12, 2013 2:35 PM   Subscribe

The Year Of Wallace (who wasn't Darwin) is pretty well-covered on MeFi. But there's news, history keeps evolving: First, a 17-year-old pupil rediscovered Wallace's butterfly collection at the Oxford University Museum. Second, a new book details how evolution was discovered. [samples here and here | both links link to .pdf files, the second one a biggie] And finally, The Darwin-Wallace mystery solved.
posted by Substrata (6 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
That last link was quite interesting; it's good to have the letter thing cleared up at last, even if it's not earth-shaking.
posted by languagehat at 4:54 PM on September 12, 2013

That last link is great -- it's like a 19th-century version of traceroute.
posted by larrybob at 5:12 PM on September 12, 2013

This still fails to credit Gromit for his contribution.
posted by w0mbat at 5:34 PM on September 12, 2013


Where's Wallace at?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:57 PM on September 12, 2013

I think the debate over exactly when Darwin received key letters from Wallace is still very much alive, despite what the last link says. A recent paper (which, admitedly I am still in the process of reading) in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society states that the letters in question arrived EARLIER than Darwin stated. I can memail the article anyone interested in discussion of the paper. Abstract below:

1 July 1858: what Wallace knew; what Lyell thought he knew; what both he and Hooker took on trust; and what Charles Darwin never told them

Roy Davies

At the Linnean Society on 1 July 1858, Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker, using only an extract from Charles Darwin's unpublished essay of 1844, and a copy of a recent letter to Asa Gray in Boston, argued successfully that Darwin understood how species originate long before a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace outlining his own version of the theory of evolution arrived at Darwin's home. That letter from Ternate in the Malay Archipelago, however, was not the first letter Darwin received from Wallace. This article will contend that two of the three letters Wallace sent Darwin between 10 October 1856 and 9 March 1858 arrived much earlier than Darwin recorded, thereby allowing him time to assess Wallace's ideas and claim an independent understanding of how the operation of divergence and extinction in the natural world leads strongly marked varieties to be identified as new species. By the time of the Linnean meeting Darwin's new ideas had filtered into his letters and ‘big’ species book, despite the absence of any independent evidence from the natural world to justify his constant insistence to have been guided only by inductive reasoning. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 109, 725–736.

posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 6:41 PM on September 12, 2013

seriously? natural selection?

this theory of evolution is not the whole. by a long shot.

Darwinism I thought was dead? come on.
posted by gkr at 11:09 PM on September 12, 2013

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