LONDON

Credit: G. W. BECCALONI

A group has been set up to raise funds to restore the neglected grave (right) of Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered evolution by natural selection independently of Charles Darwin.

Darwin was buried in Westminster Abbey in London, alongside royalty and figures such as Isaac Newton, and is remembered as one of the world's greatest scientists. Wallace, in contrast, has been almost forgotten by history, although some believe the question of the priority of the discovery remains open.

Wallace's grave has been neglected for many years in a cemetery in Broadstone, Dorset. A striking feature of the grave is a seven-foot fossilized conifer trunk, whose significance is unknown, but which is now in need of attention.

George Beccaloni, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, located the grave after a search last year. “I was quite horrified by its poor condition,” he says. Along with Wallace's grandson Richard Russel Wallace, Beccaloni has launched a memorial fund to restore and protect the monument.

They hope to gain legal protection for the grave and to extend its lease and transfer it to the Linnean Society. They also want to secure a plaque for Wallace's house, “The Dell”, in Essex, where he lived from 1871 to 1876 and wrote The Geographical Distribution of Animals.