UA Talk Focuses on Darwin Contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace

Mar 12, 2014

He doesn’t get as much attention as Charles Darwin.  But the work of Alfred Russel Wallace is perhaps just as important in building evidence for the theory of evolution through natural selection.  A talk Thursday night at the University of Alabama will focus on Wallace’s work.  Dr. James Costa is a biology professor at Western Carolina University.  He helped publish one of Wallace’s field notebooks that he says suggests his discovery wasn’t just an accident, as some have speculated.  He’ll be highlighting that work for his audience.

Dr. James Costa: “I’m hoping that they’ll be really wowed by the incredible depth and breadth of Wallace’s insights in the 1850s when he was working in isolation in southeast Asia, had no idea what Darwin was doing, and vice versa.”

Costa says Wallace and Darwin were basically working on the same problem of trying to figure out how evolution occurred when in 1858 Wallace beat Darwin to the punch.

Costa: “And that was when the two paths, Darwin’s and Wallace’s, intersected because when Wallace figured that out, in a pretty dramatic moment in the history of science, Darwin was effectively scooped.  That was Darwin’s theory of natural selection.”

The talk will be at 7:30 Thursday evening in the Biology Building on the UA campus in Tuscaloosa.