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If It's Good Enough for Wallace

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

If it's good enough for Wallace....


Who is Wallace anyway? Alfred Russel Wallace was a British (Welsh) naturalist, explorer, geographer and biologist, amongst other things. He is known (though not as much as he should be known) for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection. Only, the story goes that when Darwin heard that Wallace had come up with the same theory, he convinced Wallace to allow him (Darwin) to present both their findings - okay that's hearsay. So you know lots about Darwin, but have probably never heard of Wallace, who I feel was just as intrepid and incredible as Darwin.


Wallace developed many of his ideas on natural selection during an eight-year expedition to modern-day Indonesia, specifically in the area of Sulawesi and the Togean Islands. He discovered that the animals in Sulawesi were more closely related to those found in Australia than to those found in Asia. Wallace concluded that Sulawesi was located on a sort of boundary line that separates the two biological regions, now known as the Wallace line and the transitional region around it is called Wallacea. Wallace found that 64 percent of the mammals in this area are not found anywhere else on earth.


I find Wallace fascinating, perhaps mostly because living in Thailand, we are so close to this incredible history of the understanding of evolution. The National Geographic has a brief introduction to Wallace and there is a lot more to read online.



Unlike the Galapagos that served as the impetus for Darwin's similar theory of evolution, the Togean Islands are not touristy and very quiet. The seas are spectacularly clear, but they do lack the abundance of large fish as the area was overfished before it became protected. It's not easy to get to the Togean Islands, but I don't mind that.


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