Human evolution theory utilizing concepts of neoteny & female sexual selection
An etiology of neuropsychological disorders such as autism and dyslexia, and the origin of left handedness.

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Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace: bibliographical excerpts


"In January 1858 Wallace had just arrived at Ternate on the Moluccas to collect butterflies and beetles, "bitten by passion for species and their description, and if neither Darwin nor myself had hit upon 'Natural Selection,' I might have spent the best years of my life in this comparatively profitless work." His thinking had reached a dead end. 'I was suffering from a sharp attack of intermittent fever, and every day during the cold and succeeding hot fits had to lie down for several hours, during which time I had nothing to do but to think over any subjects then particularly interesting me. One day something brought to my recollection Malthus's "Principles of Population," which I had read twelve years before. I thought of his clear exposition of "the positive checks to increase" -- disease, accidents, war, and famine -- which keep down the population of savage races to so much lower an average than that of more civilized peoples. It then occured to me that these causes or their equivalents are continually acting in the case of animals also; and as animals usually breed much more rapidly than does mankind, then destruction every year from these causes must be enormous in order to keep down the numbers of each species...as otherwise the world would long ago have been densely crowded with those that breed quickly...Why do some die and some live? And the answer was clearly, that on the whole the best fitted live. From the effects of disease the most healthy escaped; from enemies, the strongest, the swiftest, or the most cunning; from famine, the best hunters or those with the best digestion; and so on. Then it suddenly flashed upon me that this self-acting process would necessarily improve the race, because in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain -- that is, the fittest would survive...I waited anxiously for the termination of my fit so that I might at once make notes for a paper on the subject." (Boorstin, Daniel J. (1983) The Discovers. Vintage Books: New York p. 474)

"In this last sentence we come upon the clue to all of Wallace's later thinking upon man. He had become firmly convinced that man's latent intellectual powers, even in a savage state, were far in excess of what he might have achieved through natural selection alone." (Eiseley, L (1958) Darwin’s Centry. Anchor Books: New York p. 311-2) [note: use this in support of Jerison / dance section]

"The second stage in human evolution, however--the stage which represents Wallace's original contribution to the subject, and which elicited admiring plaudits from Darwin--involves his recognition of the role of the human brain as a totally new factor in the history of life. Wallace was apparently the first evolutionist to recognize clearly and consciously and with a full grasp of its implications the fact that, with the emergence of that bodily specialization which constitutes the human brain, bodily specialization itself might be said to be outmoded. The evolution of parts, the evolution of the sort of unconscious adaptations which are to be observed in the life cycle of a complicated parasite or the surgical mouth parts of a vampire bat, had been forever surpassed. Nature, instead of delimiting through parts a creature confined to some narrow niche of existence, had at last produced an organism potentially capable of the endless inventing and discarding of parts through the medium of a specialized organ whose primary purpose was, paradoxically, the evasion of specialization." (Eiseley, L (1958) Darwin’s Centry. Anchor Books: New York p. 306)

"It seems as if the organ (song) had been prepared in anticipation of the future progress of man, since it contains latent capacities which are useless to him in his earlier condition. The delicate correlations of structure that give it such marvellous powers could not therefore have been acquired by means of natural selection." (Wallace, AR (1895) Natural Selection. MacMillan and Co: New York p. 198)

"Two characteristics could hardly be wider apart than the size and development of man's brain and the distribution of hair upon the surface of his body, yet they both lead us to the same conclusion -- that some other power than natural selection has been engaged in his production." (Wallace, AR (1895) Natural Selection. MacMillan and Co: New York p. 197)

[Eiseley quoting Wallace writing Darwin] " 'Such expressions have given your opponents the advantage of assuming that favorable variations are rare accidents, or may even for long periods never occur at all and thus (the) argument would appear to many to have great force. I think it would be better to do away with all such qualifying expressions, and constantly maintain (what I certainly believe to be the fact) that variations of every kind are always occurring in every part of every species, and therefore that favorable variations are always ready when wanted.' ... In making this statement Wallace showed less addiction to the echoes of Lamarckian thought than his master. He was moving toward a more modern point of view. It is worth noting that Darwin took his advice. In later editions the sentence in Chapter V of the Origin which originally spoke of favorable mutations occurring "in the course of thousands of generations" has been unobstrusively altered to "successive generations." ". (Eiseley, L (1958) Darwin’s Centry. Anchor Books: New York p. 191)

"This constant preference of animals for their like, even in the case of slightly different varieties of the same species, is evidently a fact of great importance in considering the origin of species by natural selection, since it show us that, so soon as a slight difference of form or colour has been effected, isolation will at once arise by the selective association of the animals themselves; and thus the great stumbling-block of "the swamping effects of intercrossing," which has been so prominently brought forward by many naturalists, will be completely obviated." (Wallace AR (1890) Darwinism. MacMillan: London p. 173)

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