“It suddenly flashed upon me … in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain — that is, the fittest would survive.” – Alfred Russel Wallace
Today July 1, in 1858, modern biology was born. It was on this day that Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace had a paper presented to the Linnaean Society of London. In that paper, the idea of natural selection as the driving force behind the variation among species was first heard in public.
It didn’t cause riots, fainting spells, or even a great murmur, but it marks the starting point for essentially everything we know about biology today. Darwin almost got scooped by the younger Wallace, had they not decided to submit this paper together. His magnum opus On the Origin of Species wouldn’t come out until the following year.
If you’re feeling historical, you can check out the original paper from these two “indefatigable naturalists” at the Linnaean Society archives.