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August 30, 2020

Wallace’s heart sank – along with his prized toucan – as he watched his life’s work go up in smoke.

After four years exploring the Amazon, Alfred Russell Wallace planned to make a name for himself by walking into a London scientific salon with the rare exotic bird perched on his arm – along with a shipload of rare flora and fauna.
118513460_162699858766526_4660426787249098517_n.jpg However, returning to England in 1852 his boat suddenly caught fire and took the thousands of specimens he’d collected to the bottom of the ocean.

But Wallace refused to give up and having survived the ordeal at sea it’s apt that on his next expedition he realised the theory of natural selection – or survival of the fittest – which was promptly published along with an identical theory conceived by his good friend Charles Darwin.

Their evolutionary concept upturned the scientific and religious worlds – which still accepted the Biblical creation story – and provided an answer to the questions of where we come from and how we relate to the rest of the natural world?

Unbeknownst to Wallace, Darwin had privately come up with the theory some years earlier but was too scared to publish it until his younger chum divulged his shared revelation.

And thanks to Alfred, Charles was spurred on to release his rather influential book The Origin of the Species.

Today, Wallace perhaps doesn’t get as much glory as his famous friend for transforming natural history for all time but one group of eateries in London, named after the duo, has immortalised this intellectual pair and shown that if one great naturalist can transform the scientific world, then indeed ‘two can’ too.

And so it feels fitting to raise a glass to both gentlemen this weekend with a Broken Clock Sunday Brunch serve from Luis Santos at Darwin and Wallace.