Our darling Charles Darwin, describer of evolution, was a ferocious learner. Watching, drawing, capturing plants and animals, lock stock and barrel, in pursuit of his studies: from deadly daisies to pernicious pigeons, to baneful barnacles. His Origin of Species, originally printed in 1859, is still in print today. He gave us the wonderful phrase that over-zealous teachers, coaches, and parents have twisted into their mantra: “Survival of the fittest.”
Well, really, “survival of the fit” is what he wrote, our rich white man who quit med school because he hated the sight of blood. (Red was a very draining color for him.) In the most basic terms, he theorized that competition was the driving force behind evolution. One individual beating out another. Or rather, getting to beat out first and hence creating more progeny.
He took his own words to heart, applying them to the scientific community. When he was contacted by Alfred Russell Wallace to discuss his own theories on the possibility of evolution, Darwin provided him with valuable feedback and then rushed his own work to publish a paper on the subject first.
Nailed it. Swoosh.
Of course, Alfred Russell Wallace also followed his own theories. While applying it to the scientific community led him to lose the evolution wars at the time, he is now being recognized as a codescriber. Bit of Tortoise and the Hare. His theories have proven to be equally if not more correct: survival of the cooperative. It is just not as bloody and immediate as Darwin’s competition.