What Did Wallace Contribute to the Theory of Evolution?


Martha Robinson

Wallace, together with Charles Darwin, is credited with the development of the theory of evolution. While Darwin’s contribution to the theory is widely recognized, Wallace’s contribution is often overlooked. In this article, we will explore Wallace’s contribution to the theory of evolution and highlight some of his key ideas.

The Early Life of Wallace

Wallace was born in 1823 in Wales and grew up in England. He had an interest in natural history from a young age and spent much of his time exploring the countryside around his home. He was largely self-taught and developed his knowledge through reading books and observing nature.

The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

Wallace independently arrived at the idea of natural selection, which is the process by which species evolve over time. Natural selection occurs when individuals with certain traits are better suited to their environment and are therefore more likely to survive and reproduce. Over time, these advantageous traits become more common in a population, leading to evolutionary change.

The Role of Adaptation

One of Wallace’s key contributions to the theory of evolution was his emphasis on adaptation. He recognized that organisms must be well adapted to their environment in order to survive and reproduce. Furthermore, he argued that adaptation was not a static process but rather an ongoing one that involved constant change.

The Importance of Biogeography

Another important contribution that Wallace made to the theory of evolution was his work on biogeography. Biogeography is the study of how living things are distributed across geographic space. Wallace recognized that different regions had different types of organisms and argued that this was due to historical factors such as continental drift.


In conclusion, while Darwin is often credited as being the father of evolutionary theory, it is important to recognize the significant contributions made by Wallace. His ideas on natural selection, adaptation, and biogeography were groundbreaking and helped to shape our understanding of the natural world. As we continue to study evolution, it is important to remember the important role that Wallace played in its development.