Don’t Forget Wallace

alfred+russel+wallace+portraitOur Tennessee natural heritage botanist Todd Crabtree, who’s headquartered in the Division of Natural Areas, sent an email with this subject line and a number of links to resources about Alfred Russell Wallace. Wallace was the co-architect of the theory of evolution by natural selection, but his name has been far eclipsed by that of Charles Darwin. Generosity of spirit is seldom, in my experience, a phrase that comes to mind when describing a great scientist. Mr. Wallace was indeed a generous, self-effacing scientist. Does that characteristic help explain why his name is all-but-forgotten?

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death, and several institutions are doing their best to see that his remarkable contribution receives the attention that it deserves. Here are the stories that Todd recommends from the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog, The Natural History Museum, London, and the latter’s library collections.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is self-described as “a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global ‘biodiversity commons.'” I’m bookmarking it today. Among its treasures that you can view is a slideshow of gorgeous botanical prints. You’ll see it as you scroll down through the post titled “Wallace, Darwin, and Evolution — the Real Story.”

Thanks, Todd, for this timely heads-up!


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