Alfred Russel Wallace
“A prisoner of scientific parentheses, as in, "the theory of evolution by
natural selection proposed by Charles Darwin (and also by Alfred Russel
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see this picture.
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see this picture.
 Born in Usk, a small town in Wales.
 Eighth of nine children of Thomas and Mary Anne Wallace.
 Father- earned a law degree; never practiced as an attorney.
 Family fell on hard times early in Wallace’s life.
 1836: Wallace forced to withdraw from grammar school at age
13; sent to London to live with older brother, John.
Surveying (1837-1843)
After a few months in London, Wallace left to become an apprentice
under his oldest brother, William.
Trained to become a surveyor.
Learned trades such as map-making, geometry, and trigonometry.
Learned to be a very keen observer of his surroundings.
Became fond of the outdoors, particularly in botany and geology.
Let go by his brother after a period of financial difficulties.
Collegiate School at Leicester
• Applied for a teaching position and was hired.
• Taught drafting, surveying, English, and arithmetic.
• Reads Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principle of Population”
• Met Henry Walter Bates, a young naturalist.
• Bates introduced the practice of collecting specimens to
• After reading about the travels of other accomplished naturalists
such as Charles Darwin, Wallace and Bates decided to travel to
the Amazon.
Collegiate School at Leicester
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see this picture.
Exploration of the Amazon
Wallace primary goal in the Amazon was to collect specimens.
Interested in studying “biological evolution”, an idea introduced by
Robert Chambers in “The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation”
Aside from collecting, Wallace took notes on the regions geography,
wildlife, and even the inhabitants and their languages.
On his way back to England, Wallace’s boat caught fire and sank;
taking with it the majority of Wallace’s work in the Amazon.
Wallace and his crew rescued by a passing cargo ship. Journey across
the Atlantic took nearly three months.
Back in England
• Despite losing most of his specimens and notes from his travels,
Wallace was able to publish two books upon his return to
• “Palm Trees of the Amazon and Their Uses”
• A study on the plant life in the Amazon.
• “A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro”
• An account of Wallace’s four years in South America
• Correspondence with Charles Darwin.
Travel in the East Indies
• Malay Archipelago: modern day Malaysia and Indonesia
• Traveled almost 14,000 miles on a number of expeditions in the
region; visited every island in the archipelago at least once.
• Collected over 125,000 specimens, including around a thousand
that had never been discovered before.
• “Rhacophorus nigropalmatus”- Wallace’s flying-frog
• “The Malay Archipelago” (1869): dedicated to Darwin.
Wallace’s Flying Frog
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see thi s picture.
• Founder of biogeography
• Recognized the six great biogeographical regions on Earth.
• “Wallace Line”: imaginary line separating Asia and Australia
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to s ee this picture.
Natural Selection
• Makes a connection between Malthus’ ideas on population
growth and evolution.
• “Survival of the fittest”: most fit organisms survive and pass their
genes onto future generations.
• “On the Tendencies of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the
Original Type” (1858): sent to Darwin
• Lyell and Hooker present Wallace’s essay along with some of
Darwin’s writings at the Linnaen Society on July 1, 1858.
Darwin vs. Wallace
• Darwin- “Natural Selection”
• Wallace- “Survival of the Fittest”, “Adaptation”
• Darwin considered sexual selection as a separate phenomenon;
Wallace believed it was a form of natural selection.
• Darwin believed in the inheritance of acquired traits
• Wallace rejected Lamarck’s idea
• Darwin stressed that competition was the cause of natural
• Wallace emphasized that environmental pressures forced
species to adapt to their surroundings.
• Wallace became a spiritualist in the late 1860’s.
• Human’s “higher attributes” could not have resulted
from natural selection.
• Ideas were strongly rejected by Darwin, but were
endorsed by Darwin’s good friend Charles Lyell.
• Wallace’s scientific reputation was destroyed by his
association with Spiritualism.
Social Activism
Exposed to the ideas of social reformers such as Robert Owen and
Thomas Paine while living in London early in his life.
Social comments in “The Malay Archipelago” drew the attention of
notable economists/socialists such as John Stuart Mill.
Supported labor movements: argued for overtime pay
Supporter of women’s suffrage and a paper money system
Argued against militarism and imperialism
Anti-vaccination campaign
Endorsed Socialism
• Over 750 publications; 22 full-length books
• “The Malay Archipelago” (1869)
• “Darwinism” (1889)
- Defense of natural selection
- Gave priority on the subject to Darwin
- “Wallace effect”: natural selection against hybrids creating two
reproductively isolated populations; speciation
• “Remarks on the Rev. S. Haughton’s Paper on the Bee’s Cell,
and on the Origin of Species”: defense of Origin of Species
More Publications
“The Geographical Distribution of Animals” (1876)
“Island Life” (1880)
“Tropical Nature, and Other Essays” (1878)
“My Life” (1905)
• “On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New
Species” (1855)
• “On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago” (1863)
• “The Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Men Deduced
from the Theory of “Natural Selection”” (1864)
Greatest explorer-naturalist of the 19th century.
Co-founder of natural selection
Founder of biogeography
Darwin-Wallace Medal: handed out by Linnean Society every 50 years,
beginning in 1908. Recently announced that it would be awarded
Overshadowed by Darwin because of Darwin’s social status; Wallace’s
modesty and unpopular social and religious views also played a role.