Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Wallace, Alfred Russel

Welsh field naturalist and correspondent with several scientists including Bates and Darwin. Independently, he co-developed evolutionary theory; in a letter that Darwin received in 1858 Wallace described, in effect, Darwin’s own theory of natural selection, as Wallace had visualized it shortly after reading Malthus. Among other achievements, Wallace surveyed the entire southeast Asian archipelago and described an eastern limit of mammalian dispersion, still known as Wallaces line’. Author, among other works, of the so-called Sarawak law in ‘On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species’ (1855); also author of ‘On the tendency for varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type’ (1858) and Darwinism (1889).A socialist, in his later years Wallace was also a strong spiritualist. Winner of the Royal Society’s Darwin Medal (1890).

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