Darwin and Wallace papers

Darwin and Wallace independently hit upon the mechanism of natural selection.

In this section there is a comparison of  the papers read before the Linnean Society in 1858 to examine how Darwin and Wallace approached their explanation of natural selection.

This is partly of historical interest but also provides insights into the theory of natural selection.

The papers of Darwin and Wallace read at the Linnean Society meeting in 1858 were entitled:

‘On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection’.

As noted in the introduction to the publication of the papers in the Journal of the Linnean Society, Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. Alfred Wallace:

independently and unknown to one another, conceived the very same ingenious theory to account for the appearance and perpetuation of varieties and of specific forms..’

The papers consist of:

  1. Extract from an unpublished manuscript on species by Mr. Darwin
  2. An abstract of a Letter from Darwin to Professor Asa Gray
  3. An essay by Wallace entitled ‘On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type’ delivered from Ternate in the Malay Archipelago

Later the next year, after much work, Darwin would publish his major book, The Origin of Species.

Now we will examine excerpts from the text of the Journal of 1858 outlining the ideas that would transform our understanding of evolution.


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