Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace, OM, FRS (8 January 1823 – 7 November 1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution by natural selection and co-publishing a paper on the subject with Charles Darwin in 1858. Wallace did extensive fieldwork, first in the Amazon River basin and then in the Malay Archipelago, where he identified the Wallace Line that divides the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts, one in which animals closely related to those of Australia are common, and one in which the species are largely of Asian origin. He was considered the 19th century's leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is sometimes called the "father of biogeography". Wallace was one of the leading evolutionary thinkers of the 19th century and made a number of other contributions to the development of evolutionary theory besides being co-discoverer of natural selection. These included the concept of warning colouration in animals, and the Wallace effect, a hypothesis on how natural selection could contribute to speciation by encouraging the development of barriers against hybridization.

Wallace was strongly attracted to unconventional ideas. His advocacy of Spiritualism and his belief in a non-material origin for the higher mental faculties of humans strained his relationship with the scientific establishment, especially with other early proponents of evolution. In addition to his scientific work, he was a social activist who was critical of what he considered to be an unjust social and economic system in 19th-century Britain. His interest in natural history resulted in his being one of the first prominent scientists to raise concerns over the environmental impact of human activity. Wallace was a prolific author who wrote on both scientific and social issues; his account of his adventures and observations during his explorations in Indonesia and Malaysia, The Malay Archipelago, was one of the most popular and influential journals of scientific exploration published during the 19th century.

Wallace had financial difficulties throughout much of his life. His Amazon and far-eastern trips were supported by the sale of specimens he collected and, after he lost most of the considerable money he made from those sales in unsuccessful investments, he had to support himself mostly from the publications he produced. Unlike some of his contemporaries in the British scientific community, such as Darwin and Charles Lyell, he had no family wealth to fall back on and he was unsuccessful in finding a long term salaried position, receiving no regular income until a small government pension was obtained for him by Darwin in 1881.

Read more about Alfred Russel WallaceLegacy and Historical Perception, Awards, Honours, and Memorials, Writings By Wallace

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Charles H. Smith (historian Of Science)
... known for his work as a historian of science, especially for his expertise on the career of Alfred Russel Wallace ... He created and maintains the website The Alfred Russel Wallace Page hosted by WKU and devoted to Wallace scholarship, which includes a comprehensive ... Smith has also produced a number of conventional writings on Wallace including the anthology Alfred Russel Wallace An Anthology of His Shorter Writings ...
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