Alfred Russel Wallace


Alfred Russel Wallace : biography

df=y August 1 – 7 November 1913

His treatment of Mars in this book was brief, and in 1907, Wallace returned to the subject with a book Is Mars Habitable? to criticise the claims made by Percival Lowell that there were Martian canals built by intelligent beings. Wallace did months of research, consulted various experts, and produced his own scientific analysis of the Martian climate and atmospheric conditions.Slotten p. 474. Among other things, Wallace pointed out that spectroscopic analysis had shown no signs of water vapour in the Martian atmosphere, that Lowell’s analysis of Mars’s climate was seriously flawed and badly overestimated the surface temperature, and that low atmospheric pressure would make liquid water, let alone a planet-girding irrigation system, impossible. Richard Milner comments: "It was the brilliant and eccentric evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace … who effectively debunked Lowell’s illusionary network of Martian canals."

Wallace originally became interested in the topic because his anthropocentric philosophy inclined him to believe that man would likely be unique in the universe.Shermer p. 294. 

Writings by Wallace

Wallace was a prolific author. In 2002, a historian of science published a quantitative analysis of Wallace’s publications. He found that Wallace had published 22 full-length books and at least 747 shorter pieces, 508 of which were scientific papers (191 of them published in Nature). He further broke down the 747 short pieces by their primary subjects as follows. 29% were on biogeography and natural history, 27% were on evolutionary theory, 25% were social commentary, 12% were on Anthropology, and 7% were on spiritualism and phrenology.Shermer pp. 15–17. An online bibliography of Wallace’s writings has more than 750 entries.

Selected books

Selected papers

  • 1853: . Speculates on the effect of rivers and other geographical barriers on the distribution of closely allied species.
  • 1855: . Wallace’s thoughts on the laws governing the geographic distribution of closely allied species, including the Sarawak Law, and the implications of those laws for the transmutation of species.
  • 1857: . First methodical biogeographic study.
  • 1858: . Paper on natural selection sent by Wallace to Darwin.
  • 1859: . Contains first description of the Wallace Line.
  • 1863: . Wallace’s defence of the Origin on the topic of evolution of the hexagonal bee cell.
  • 1863: . Paper on the geography and possible geographic history of Indonesia with concluding remarks on importance of biogeography and biodiversity that are frequently cited in modern conservation circles.
  • 1864: . Monograph on Indonesian butterfly family with discussion of different kinds of variability including individual variation, polymorphic forms, geographical races, variation influenced by local conditions, and closely allied species.
  • 1891: . Contains speculation on how glaciation may have affected distribution of mountain flora in North America and Eurasia.

A more comprehensive of Wallace’s publications that are available online, as well as a full bibliography of all of Wallace’s writings, has been compiled by the historian Charles H. Smith at the .