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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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The Wallace-over-Darwin Groundswell

Posted by Richard Conniff on October 15, 2012

Wallace over Darwin, on the arms of a biologist at Auburn University (Photo: Richard Conniff)

OK, I confess, I deliberately posed this picture to put Wallace on top.  But, sad to say, there’s also an obvious forensic clue in the photograph indicating that Darwin came first.  If you spot the clue, please say so in comments.

And if you are completely feckin’ baffled by what I am going on about, Alfred Russel Wallace was the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection.  But unlike Darwin, he had the balls to say it out loud.  A letter from Wallace explaining his ideas in 1858 is what finally drove Darwin to publish the theory for which he had been gathering evidence over the previous 20 years.  The question of whether Wallace or Darwin deserves credit for the biggest idea in the history of science remains hotly contested, though largely by people who admire them both.  (You can read about it in my book The Species Seekers.)

Meanwhile, in other Wallace news, the world’s leading Wallace maven, George Beccaloni, recently updated his list of species named after the great field naturalist.  He writes:

So far I have found 81 species, but it is likely that this is just the tip of the iceberg! It would be great if Wallace had more species named after him than Darwin has!! Darwin has about 120.

You can check out Beccaloni’s list here.   Wallace’s resplendent jewel beetle is all very nice, but my

Wallace’s long-necked shining fungus beetle

possible favorite is Diatelium wallacei (Wallace’s long-necked shining fungus beetle).

If you have any additions to this list, please–in the spirit of oneupmanship–post them here first, in comments.  I’ll pass them along to Beccaloni.


5 Responses to “The Wallace-over-Darwin Groundswell”

  1. Jamie said

    Wallace looks freshly shaved, and guessing therefore that the tattoo is new. Or maybe he’s into shaving only his right arm.

  2. Teague Allen said

    Right arm (Wallace) is shaved, doubtless for the fresh tat.

  3. OK, that was too easy. I’m trying to remember the name of the scientist, who had just gotten back from the tattoo place, and will post it if I can dig it up by tomorrow.

    • Breaking news: Just got this from a friend at Auburn, and it’s apparently Johnny Cash over either of ’em: “It’s Chris Hamilton. Chris’ freshly shaven arm is from the upper Johnny Cash tat rather than the Wallace one.”

  4. vdinets said

    the ink in “Darwin” is faded

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