Charles Darwin was far from the first to suggest that species change with time. And he was not the only one to propose natural selection as the mechanism of species change. Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin’s sometime rival, friend, and colleague, had the same idea during a feverish fit while on an expedition to southeast Asia. The manuscript Wallace fatefully sent to Darwin describing his revolutionary thoughts spurred the elder naturalist to go public. Their papers were read at the Linnean Society of London on July 1, 1858, immediately after which Darwin hastened to complete the watershed work that would become On the Origin of Species. This conversation will explore Wallace’s life, his remarkable scientific contributions, and his fascinating personal and intellectual relationship with Darwin.
James T. Costa is Director of the Highlands Biological Station and Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University. His fieldwork and scholarship range from social evolution and behavior to the history of evolutionary thinking. He is the author of The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species (Harvard, 2009), On the Organic Law of Change: A Facsimile Edition and Annotated Transcription of Alfred Russel Wallace’s ‘Species Notebook’ of 1855–1859 (Harvard, 2013), and most recently of Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species (Harvard, 2014).
Daniel Duzdevich is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, where he studies the interactions between DNA and proteins at the scale of individual molecules. He is the author of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Modern Rendition (Indiana, 2014).