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Alfred Russel Wallace

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Alfred Russel Wallace was a naturalist in the 19th century. After an expedition to the Amazon rainforest and the Malay islands Wallace wrote a number of essays, including one which proposed a theory similar to Charles Darwin's Natural Selection, and others on Ecology. Darwin and Wallace presented their theory to the Linnean Society together.

Wallace noted that a line seemed to run through the Malay Archipelago, between Borneo and the Celebes and east of Bali. This line, which is now known as the Wallace Line separates the continents of Asia and Australia zoologically. West of the line most plants and animals are characteristic Asian species, to the east there are mostly species related to Australian forms.

In the mid 20th Century, geological studies of plate tectonics showed there is an Indo-Australian plate that has the Wallace Line as a boundary, resulting in a large drop in the sea floor at precisely the same point. This means that it has never been possible for a land bridge to form in the region, hence the zoological distribution.

One interesting note is that many (but by no means all) bird species also observe the line, as many birds refuse to cross even the smallest stretches of open water.

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