Darwin/Wallace day

darwinOn this day in 1809, Charles Darwin was born.  Across the country people are celebrating what has come to be known as Darwin Day.  This recognition is to celebrate the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin, but also generally to highlight science and scientific pursuits.

Now, let me first say that I’m a fan of Darwin – a big fan.  But as I always root for the underdog or, in this case, the lesser recognized, I just want to mention Alfred Russel Wallace.  Especially since this year it is the centennial of his death and some are saying that 2013 is Wallace Year.  Wallace was extremely influential in helping to shape Darwin’s ideas regarding natural selection.  He is also known as the father of biogeography because he recognized different floras and faunas of geographic areas and split these into regions – ideas which are still being tested and revised to this day.

So keeping this in mind, I wanted to share the following clip with a fictional representation of Charles Darwin from the movie “The Fall” where he is dressed in bright pink flamingo feathers and a bowler hat.  He is always accompanied by his quiet friend “Wallace” – an adorable monkey that he keeps in a bag.  In the film, Wallace comes up with all the good ideas, which Darwin gets all the credit for.


This is not your stereotypical representation of Darwin as a bearded and scholarly British gentleman, but I like that.  Scientists are often odd, flamboyant, fun people and think they should be portrayed as such more often.

I hope that you enjoy Darwin Day and if you are in Berkeley, California come by for a tour of the Essig Museum of Entomology this afternoon.  Or find a local event in your area and learn a bit more about Darwin, Wallace, and the process of science.


One thought on “Darwin/Wallace day

  1. The 1995 Film “Angels & Insects” was also loosely based on the early events in Wallace’s career. His collecting in the Amazon and the destruction of his specimens by ship-fire during his return voyage to England are right out of Wallace. The events take on an “R-rated” turn subsequently, however. It was certainly good for the world of Science that Wallace, in reality, decided to return to collecting in the tropics rather than become embroiled in some peculiar Victorian family smitten with far greater levels of consanguinity than the Wedgewoods and Darwins.

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