150 years ago today, the theory of natural selection was first presented to the public.
It is most interesting to note that not one but two scientists had discovered natural selection completely independently of one another. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace did not know one another beyond professional reputation and Darwin only became aware of Wallace’s theory on species transmutation after he received a letter from an ailing Wallace, requesting his theory be handed over to Charles Lyell, a highly respected scientist at the time, for possible publication in a scientific journal.
Darwin, who had already conceived his theories on natural selection years prior, was nonplussed as to what to do with this new paper from Wallace. He asked Lyell and another friend, Joseph Hooker, what to do. It was decided that Wallace’s paper would be presented along with a couple of Darwin’s writings on the same subject to the Linnean Society of London.
On July 1, 1858, the presentation was made and while Wallace later complained of the manner in which the information was presented, a major event had occurred in the world of science that paved the way for mankind to begin truly understanding its origins.
So, as you cut your steak away from the bone tonight*, consider the notion that there was a time when your ancestors ate a lot more vegetation than meat. Then think about that worm-like organ called the appendix and how today it is totally useless. Finally, consider the lizards of Pod Mrcaru and how, in just 30 years, they developed completely different digestive systems to accommodate a higher abundance of plants as food.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about the implications of all those things, it makes me wanna shout: HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATURAL SELECTION!!! You’re still as smart and sexy as you’ve always been!
*I ask my vegetarian peeps to bear with me; I’m making a point.