Charles Darwin facing accusations of plagiarism

Experts have criticised Charles Darwin for plagiarism and unjustly claiming credit as the father of evolutionary theory.

As the scientific world prepares to mark bicentenary of the author of 'On the Origin of Species', a group of critics has commissioned computer experts with specialized anti-plagiarism software to scour Darwin's book, published in 1859, for similarities to a paper released the year before by Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist who worked for eight years in modern Indonesia.

Initial indications are that the analysis will reveal that some of the ideas in On the Origin of Species were taken from Wallace, particularly, the idea that species with variations helping them to survive would thrive and pass on these features to their offspring.

As far as the dispute over who deserves the credit is concerned, it is as old as evolutionary theory itself, with Darwin's defenders claiming the two came up with similar ideas independently at the same time, reports TimesOnline.

According to James Moore, a biographer and professor of the history of science at the Open University, the new plagiarism claim is "manufactured."

He added that those pursuing it were under qualified to do so.

"You wouldn't go to a plumber to do your tax return," he said.

The adulation has shocked critics, including lawyer David Hallmark, a trustee of the Wallace Foundation of Indonesia.

"The descent of Wallace from equality to relative invisibility is the direct result of the unlawful conduct of Charles Darwin by suppressing the true worth of Wallace as the author of the theory," Hallmark said.

The software used by Hallmark's copyright experts can detect where phrasing is identical and also signs of an author's style being copied.

Hallmark plans to submit his findings to the International Association of Forensic Linguists in Amsterdam in July.

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