Alfred Russel Wallace, 'Forgotten Man' Of Science, To Be Honoured At Natural History Museum

A 19th century British scientist famous for being the "forgotten" father of evolution will be remembered in a series of events at London's Natural History museum from tomorrow.

Alfred Russel Wallace co-discovered the theory of natural selection, but unlike his contemporary Charles Darwin never became a household name.

Both he and Darwin shared authorship of the scientific article that first proposed the theory in 1858.

Alfred Russel Wallace, the 'forgotten man' of science

A year later, Darwin's book On the Origin of Species came out and secured a place in history.

The Natural History Museum's Wallace 100 programme was organised to mark the centenary of his death in 1913 and put the biologist back in the spotlight.

It will begin tomorrow when comedian and naturalist Bill Bailey unveils an impressive portrait of Wallace in the museum's Central Hall. The portrait will hang near the famous statue of Charles Darwin.

Bailey is also hosting a BBC2 TV series about Wallace to be screened in the spring.

Over the summer, families can follow a Wallace Discovery Trail around the Natural History Museum and view some of the most important specimens Wallace collected.

Interactive Nature Live talks are planned in the museum's Attenborough Studio, and leading biologists and historians will participate in a series of monthly lectures about Wallace's life and work.

Many regard Wallace as one of the greatest scientists of all time.

Not only did he independently come up with the idea of natural selection, but he founded the science of evolutionary biogeography - the study of the geographical distribution of plants and animals.

He made a significant impact in fields as diverse as anthropology and epidemiology, and gathered thousands of previously unknown species in South America and Asia.

Natural History Museum curator and Wallace expert Dr George Beccaloni said: "This anniversary is a great opportunity to raise awareness of Wallace's ground-breaking scientific work, his valuable collections which are still being studied today, and his amazing adventures in South America and South East Asia in search of the process responsible for generating the astonishing diversity of life on Earth.

"Wallace's remarkable accomplishments are not as appreciated today as they were in his own lifetime, and are often overshadowed by Darwin's. The events being organised by the Natural History Museum and other organisations in the UK and abroad as part of the Wallace100 celebrations will help to bring him out of Darwin's shadow."