Restoring a reputation
Professor Jones believes Wallace did lose credibility in his lifetime because of his interest in spirituality, at a time when his peers, like Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley, deplored such beliefs.
But he feels that if Wallace were alive today, he would still be up there with the greats.
“It is probably Wallace we should thank for On the Origin of Species, because he inspired Darwin to publish.
“Darwin was painstakingly gathering evidence to support his ideas and in the process had written four books on barnacles.
“If Wallace had never written to him, Darwin would never have got around to it and would probably have spent about 40 years looking for further proof!”
The lecture is part of a series being held by the museum to mark the centenary of Wallace’s death.
Last month it was announced that letters written by Wallace, including his full correspondence with Darwin, are to go online for the first time.
Events will be taking place throughout the year at various venues to publicise the anniversary.
Professor Jones’ lecture takes place at 5pm on Thursday, 7 February, in the Natural History Museum’s Flett Lecture Theatre.