AsianScientist (Jun. 26, 2013) – Research by a historian in Singapore has revealed the full story of how evolution was co-discovered by Alfred Russel Wallace while suffering from malaria on an island near New Guinea.
Although Charles Darwin is well known for his discovery of the theory of evolution, published in his book On The Origin Of Species in 1895, he was not the only one who made the discovery.
While it is generally accepted that fellow naturalist Alfred Wallace independently discovered evolution by natural selection during his eight-year travel in the Malay Archipelago, the sequence of events leading up to the discovery remained unresolved.
Now, in a new book titled Dispelling the Darkness: Voyage in the Malay Archipelago and the discovery of evolution by Wallace and Darwin, historian Dr John van Wyhe from the National University of Singapore has put together groundbreaking research to resolve many long-standing mysteries, revealing the complete story for the first time.
One of the major controversies stemmed from an essay that Wallace drafted while in the Malay Archipelago to explain his discovery. Wallace had mailed the essay to Darwin prior to the publication of Darwin’s own theory which he had been working on for twenty years.
Uncertainties about postal delivery dates had fueled several conspiracies about the relationship between Darwin and Wallace. Did Darwin borrow or plagiarize from Wallace? Were their theories really the same?
Following the route of the fateful letter from Asia to the UK in the 1850s, Dr van Wyhe’s research showed that there is no mystery, and confirmed that both men reached the very similar conclusions independently.
Where exactly did Wallace discover natural selection? Through careful study of widely scattered historical documents, Dr van Wyhe determined that Wallace had his eureka moment while suffering from malarial fever on the island of Ternate, part of the Maluku Islands near New Guinea.
“Although the theory of evolution story has been told thousands of times in books and documentaries, several long-standing mysteries and many myths and legends have distorted our picture of the most important revolution in the history of science,” said Dr van Wyhe.
“This book aims to shed light on Wallace’s less well-known voyage and reveal the true story of how evolution was unveiled to the world.”
Published by World Scientific Publishing, the book is now available for sale at: van Wyhe (2013) Dispelling The Darkness: Voyage In The Malay Archipelago And The Discovery Of Evolution By Wallace And Darwin.
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