Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection

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MacMillan and Company, 1871 - 400 pages
Wallace noticed on expeditions to the Amazon and the Malay archipelego that mammals in Southeast Asia are more advanced than their Australian cousins. His suggestion was that the two continents had split before the better adapted mammals had evolved in Asia. The isolated Australian marsupials were able to thrive, whilst those in Asia were driven to extinction by competition from more advanced mammals. This led to his theory of natural selection, which he presented to the Linnean Society in 1858 with Charles Darwin. This volume reprints those papers presented to the Linnean Society.

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About the author (1871)

Born in Usk, Wales, Alfred Wallace had a very limited education, yet he became a noted naturalist and independently developed the theory of evolution, which is most commonly associated with the name of Charles Darwin. Wallace's formal education was completed with his graduation from grammar school at the age of 14. Having developed an interest in natural history, he avidly pursued this study during his years as a teacher in Leicester, England. In 1848 Wallace went to Brazil to study animals of the Amazon. Returning to England in 1853, he departed a year later on an expedition to the East Indies, where he remained for nine years. It was during this time that he developed his theory of evolution, essentially the same theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest that Darwin had developed and had been painstakingly perfecting before making his views known. Wallace sent his paper setting forth his theory to Darwin, who recognized that his and Wallace's theories were the same. The theory was presented in a joint paper before the Linnaean Society, an organization of scientists, in London in 1858. With Wallace's agreement, Darwin was given the major credit for developing the theory because of the wide-ranging body of evidence that he had amassed in support of it.

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