Alfred Russel Wallace Essay, Research Paper
Many important contributions have been made to science. One of the most important deals with the theory of evolution. Back in the 1800s, a man named Alfred Russel Wallace made his contributions to science and to the theory of evolution. His discoveries influenced the world of science in the years to come.
One of the forgotten fathers of modern science is a man named Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace was best known for his development of a theory of evolution based on natural selection. He was born in 1823 in the village of Usk in Monmouthshire, England. Wallace’s father died while Alfred was still young. Alfred joined his brother, William, not long after his formal schooling had ended. They went on to survey English counties over the following four years. During this time, Alfred learned to make accurate observations and detailed recordings. These skills came to be a big part and were very important for Alfred later in life.
In Leicester, at the Collegiate School, he was named the drawing-master. Wallace met up with another teacher while he was in Leicester. The teacher was Henry Bates. He brought Alfred into the world of botany and influenced Wallace to make a collection of beetles. In 1848, Wallace and Bates went on a trip to South America. The purpose of the trip was to go on an expedition where they could explore the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers. A year later, Wallace and Bates split up so they could cover the large area. During their time in South America, Wallace would gather many specimens. Later, he sent these specimens to Para for storage and safe keeping before his return to England. Wallace would then spend an additional four years in Brazil before returning home in 1852. On the return trip home, Wallace’s ship caught fire and had to be abandoned. Due to the fire, he lost his entire collection and most of his notes. A catastrophe like this would likely defeat some people, but not Wallace. Wallace wrote an account of the time he spent in Brazil. The account is called: Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro (1853).
A year later, Wallace set out on another trip. This time he traveled to Malay Archipelago, where he would spend the next eight years. While he was in the area he visited most of the islands. At this point, Wallace would become convinced of the truth of evolution. He became interested in how species arose. In 1855, he published an article that argued that new species originate in space and time simultaneously with an already existing related species. The article was called: On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species. When Wallace was in Moluccas in 1858, he was recalling the Essay on Population by Thomas Malthus and he had the idea of the “survival of the fittest”. Wallace then wrote a draft of an article that he later sent to Charles Darwin in England. Darwin noticed that Wallace had used his theory in the article. Darwin then talked with Sir Charles Lyell and Sir Joseph D. Hooker. The reaction of Lyell and Hooker led to a joint paper of Wallace’s essay and an abstract of Darwin’s theory. The paper was then read in front of the Linnaean Society in July 1858. This joint publication helped Darwin’s theory become known to the scientific community.
The essay On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type by Wallace, established the rate in which animals multiply and their dependence on several kinds of food supplies for the average numbers and arrived at the conclusion that only the ones who are the strongest can survive and that the weakest will essentially die. Wallace then studied the forms of the archipelago, and in talking about mammals, split the land surface of the earth into six zoo geographical regions. He named the regions Palaearctic, Nearctic, Ethiopian, Oriental, Australian, and Neotropical. Between the islands of Bali and Lombok is the most remarkable of the many faunal contrasts found by Wallace. A deep straight separates the islands and is about 15 miles wide at its narrowest point. According to Wallace, the fauna of Bali and Lombok differ a lot from the birds and quadrupeds of England and Japan. The straight is known as “Wallace’s Line” and is said to split up the peculiar Australian fauna from those of the other Pacific islands.
In 1862, Wallace returned to England. He then visited and lectured in the United States and Canada in 1887 and 1888. Wallace’s Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection (1870) and Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) were very important in promoting an understanding of the basic truth of natural selection. Although Wallace never did hold a permanent appointment, he made his living principally by writing and lecturing. In 1908, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society and received the Order of Merit. Other writings by Wallace include The Malay Archipelago (1869), The Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876), Tropical Nature (1878), Island Life (1880), and Man’s Place in the Universe (1903). In 1913, Wallace died in Broadstone, Dorset.
The world of science and the theory of evolution were greatly influenced by Alfred Russel Wallace. The theory of evolution has had a negative effect on modern thinking. The negative effect it has made is the result of its own misinterpretation by much of the worlds population. The misinterpretation is that evolution is scientific fact. The problem is that the theory of evolution is just a theory. A theory is a speculative idea or plan as to how something might be done. It is not a thing that has actually happened or that is really true. But Wallace did dedicate himself to science and finding out the truth of where mankind came from and why, and today, evolution is still being taught in some education systems around the world.
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