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Two Scientists Share Credit for the Theory of Evolution. Darwin Got Famous; This Biologist Didn’t.

When the Linnean Society of London hears the case for natural selection in 1858, Darwin shared credit with biologist A.R. Wallace

(Sweet Fern Productions)

You've heard of Charles Darwin, right? Of course you have. But have you heard of A.R. Wallace? Probably not. But what if I told you that he was just as important as Darwin in discovering the theory of natural selection?

History has not been kind to Wallace, pushing him back to the depths of obscurity, while every nerdy college kid sticks a Darwin poster on their dorm room wall. In this video, animators Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck tell the forgotten story of Wallace—a tale of misfortune, shipwreck, backpacking, malaria and incredible science.

It was during fits of malaria that Wallace started to come up with the idea of natural selection. He sent his manuscript to Darwin, who puts together a set of notes to be presented alongside Wallace's. When the Linnean Society of London hears the case for natural selection in 1858, Wallace and Darwin share the credit.

So what happened? Why do we remember Darwin and not Wallace? Well, for one, when Darwin published On the Origin of Species, he barely mentions Wallace at all. And Wallace doesn't' complain. In fact, he loves the book. And with that, he fades away.

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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