The theory of natural selection of Alfred Russel Wallace FRS

Michael Bulmer


Wallace's 1858 paper ‘On the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type’ is often thought to present a theory of natural selection identical with that of Darwin. Examination of Wallace's argument shows that it is different from Darwin's because Wallace thought that an inferior variety could coexist with a superior variety until environmental deterioration forced the extinction of the inferior one. Other interpretations of Wallace's argument are re-examined in the light of this finding.

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