The other man who discovered evolution

British scientist Alfred Russel Wallace in 1847 at the age of 27.
PHOTO: Singapore Botanic Gardens

On this day in 1913, Alfred Russel Wallace passed away. His work transformed our understanding of the natural world

There is a place in the world where all the forces of nature merge and create an environment so unique that there are animals like nowhere else on Earth. Rainforest-covered volcanoes soar out of an ocean filled with vibrant coral reefs, ecosystems meeting to create unrivalled biodiversity.

This is the land where Alfred Russel Wallace spent 8 years exploring from 1854 to 1862, and where he made some of the most important scientific discoveries of all time.

Wallace played a key role in the discovery of evolution, and also laid the foundations for our understanding of how islands influence the natural world.

To Wallace, this region was known as the Malay Archipelago. To modern biologists, it is Wallacea: thousands of South-East-Asian islands that lie between Asia and Australia. Everything here shouts out the magnificence of life.

Wallace's research tried to answer one of the most profound questions of all: where does life come from? His exploits would change the course of history.

Born in 1823 in Wales, Wallace was a man of modest means, but he had a passion for nature and he chose to follow it.

He started out collecting insects as a hobby, but eventually his yearning for adventure led him to explore the world.

Luckily for Wallace, Victorian Britain was discovering an interest in weird and wonderful insects, so the demand from museums and private collections for these beasts was growing.

Wallace was able to make a living doing what he loved: collecting beetles and other insects.

But his first trip ended in disaster.

Wallace ventured to the Amazon in South America. Its giant forests promised a wealth of new species, sure to put him on the scientific map.

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