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Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe

Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe

(b. Motieren-Vuly, Switzerland, 28 May 1807; d. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 14 December 1873)

ichthyology, geology, paleontology.

Louis Agassiz, the son of Rodolphe and Rose Mayor Agassiz, grew to manhood enjoying the prosperity and status of his family and the natural beauty of the Swiss cantons of Fribourg, Vaud, and Neuchâtel. He never identified with a sectarian religious persuasion. He did embrace the Protestant pietism of his minister father, but was more fundamentally devoted to an idealistic romanticism that saw the power of the Creator exemplified in all flora and fauna. The Agassiz and Mayor families were anxious to see Louis succeed in the world of commerce or medicine, but he triumphed over their opposition and entered the larger world of European scholarship and cosmopolitanism by attending the universities of Zurich, Heidelberg, and Munich. In 1829 he earned his doctorate in philosophy at the universities of Munich and Erlangen and published a monograph on the fishes of Brazil that brought him to the attention of Baron Georges Cuvier. In 1830 he earned the doctor of medicine degree at Munich. After studying under Cuvier’s tutelage in Paris, Agassiz accepted a professorship at the newly established College of Neuchâtel in 1832. In the same year he married Cécile Braun, the sister of his Heidelberg classmate Alexander Braun. In 1846 he accepted an invitation to lecture at the Lowell Institute in Boston. On the death of his wife in 1847, he accepted a professorship at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University, where he continued to teach until his death. Agassiz’s decision to make the United States his permanent home-despite attractive offers to return to Europewas influenced by his love for and marriage to Elizabeth Cabot Cary. From 1850 until 1873 she raised Agassiz’s three children by his first wife and acted as a constant companion in the writing, exploration, and interpretation of natural history.

Agassiz’s career had two distinct geographic and intellectual aspects. As a European, he published monographs on ichthyology, paleontology, and geology whose promise earned him the admiration of such established savants as Cuvier, Alexander von Humboldt, and Sir Charles Lyell. As an American, Agassiz made nature study popular and appealing, explored the American environment with great enthusiasm, and established lasting institutions of research and education. His robust attitude toward life and nature study was a perpetual passion that tolerated no opposition to plans he deemed vital. Agassiz demanded unquestioning loyalty, and repaid such dedication by deep love and devotion. His dedication to science and culture won him the admiration of statesman and commoner alike, although his reputation among fellow scientists diminished with the passing of time. His exceptionally strong constitution sustained him on journeys of exploration through central Europe, the Swiss Alps, the eastern United States and the trans-Mississippi West, and South America. In 1873, shortly after an expedition through the Strait of Magellan, Agassiz died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Among his numerous awards and honors were the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London and the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London.

Agassiz thought of himself primarily as a naturalist, generalizing about the entire range of organic creation. Nevertheless, it is the modern sciences of \ichthyology, geology, and paleontology that bear the stamp of his contributions. In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, when the natural sciences were in transition from classical to evolutionary biology, Agassiz’s work and career were typical. He had an insatiable desire to record data; he described and analyzed material significant for the study of marine biology, freshwater fishes. embryology, and fossil fishes. In this last realm, his Poinssons fossiles, written directly in the tradition of his mentor Cuvier, contained precise descriptions of more than 1,700 ancient species, together with illustrated reconstructions based on principles of comparative anatomy. This pioneer effort was a model of exactitude, providing future students with primary data relating zoology to geology and paleontology.

Agassiz never viewed his work in paleoichthyology as providing a framework for conceptions of natural history related to the development of lower forms into higher ones. He insisted that ancient and modern species were permanent representations of a divine idea, and bore no genetic relationship to each other. While employing techniques of close empirical study learned from such teachers as Cuvier and Ignaz Døllinger, Agassiz affirmed a view of the world above and beyond experience. In this sense, he reflected the teaching of Lorenz Oken and Friedrich Schelling. These diverse influences in Agassiz’s intellectual history make it impossible to separate his contributions to exact science from his philosophy of nature. He worked in two divergent traditions, and his efforts reflected the virtues and deficiencies of each. This is why evolutionists found Agassiz so mystifying an opponent and why the Swiss naturalist found their views to be mere restatements of ideas absorbed and partly rejected in his youth.

These divergent qualities were reflected in Agassiz’s geological investigations. From 1835 to 1845, while still serving as a professor at Neuchâtel, Agassiz studied the glacial formations of Switzerland and compared them with the geology of England and central Europe. The resulting concept of the “Ice Age” was remarkable for its breadth of generalization and for the exacting field study represented. Agassiz held that in the immediately recent past there had been an era during which large land masses over much of northern Europe were covered with ice. With the onset of warming periods, the recession of the ice was responsible for upheaval and subsidence. The marks of glaciers could be discerned in the scratched and polished rocks as well as in the configurations of the earth in glaciated regions. Glacial movement was responsible for modern geological configurations, and could be traced in such areas as Switzerland. Agassiz was not the first to observe the phenomena of glaciation, but he was innovative in the wide-ranging character of his research, his measurement of ice formations, and his elaboration of local geology into a theory explaining Continental natural history. Such events, now known to have been of greater cyclical duration than Agassiz asserted, were still sufficient to convince such naturalists as Darwin and Lyell that Pleistocene glaciation was a primary mechanism in causing the geographical distribution and consequent genetic relationship of flora and fauna otherwise inexplicably separated by land and water masses. But Agassiz could never accept such a conclusion. He interpreted glaciation in metaphysical terms. To him, the Deity had been responsible for the Ice Age, a catastrophe that provided a permanent physical barrier separating the species of the past from those of the present era. There were as many as twenty seperate creations in the history of the earth, each distinguished by animal and plant forms bearing no relationship to present types. At best, paleontology could only provide a glimpse of those “prophetic types” that suggested the course of future development, while those forms that remained unchanged over time were evidence of the wisdom of the Creator in inspiring perfect creatures from the beginning. Agassiz extended his conception of natural history to include mankind, asserting that men, like other animals, were of distinct types or species and were marked by different physical and intellectual traits. In the United States of the pre-Civil War years, such ideas provided convenient rationalizations for defenders of the slave system.

Agassiz’s visit to the United States in 1846 was a notable success, for the brilliant young naturalist described his adventures and communicated his love of nature to lecture hall audiences in Boston and other eastern cities. He had also come to compare the natural history of the Old World with that of America, but this temporary purpose soon vanished in the adulation he received from all classes of Americans. Agassiz found the natural environment fascinating, and after accepting the Harvard professorship, he determined to explore it and interpret it to his new countrymen. In 1855 he announced a grand plan for the publication of a monumental ten-volume study, Contributions to the Natural History of the United States. that would depict the full scope of the American natural environment. Only four volumes appeared; and these, although magnificently illustrated, were valuable only for their descriptions of North American turtles. The work was at once too complicated for the general public and too descriptive for those naturalists increasingly interested in new theoretical conceptions identifiable with the work of Charles Darwin.

Agassiz was philosophically and scientifically unprepared to meet the challenge of the theory of evolution as it was propounded in 1859. During his early years in the United States he extended his glacial theory to North America, he explored large portions of the country, and conducted some potentially valuable research in marine biology. More than all these efforts, it was the collection of the raw data of nature that drove Agassiz ever onward, so that Harvard University became a center for natural history instruction and research. The capstone of such efforts was the establishment at Harvard College in 1859 of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, an institution made possible by private gifts and funds supplied by the state of Massachusetts. The museum always bore the impress of Agassiz’s conception of the relationship between graduate instruction, research, fieldwork, and publication, centered in an institution of higher learning and supported by private philanthropy and public funds.

It was inevitable that Agassiz became the leading American opponent of Darwin, but regrettable that his public activity left little time for reflection on the data he had collected or on alternate interpretations of its significance. Agassiz had become a public man in the fullest sense, but even had he devoted more time to intellectual labor, it is doubtful that he could have accepted an interpretation of nature that seemed to deny permanence and immaterialism. Some of his critiques of evolution were trenchant ones, but in the main his attacks were inconclusive efforts that failed to convince his scientific colleagues. Many of these appeared in popular journals, reflecting Agassiz’s conviction that this “error” had to be opposed with the full power of his public position. While Agassiz’s opposition to evolution was inconsequential, the years from 1859 to his death were nevertheless a period of notable public accomplishment. He was able to obtain more than $600,000 in public and private support for the Harvard museum, and to convince fellow scientists to establish the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. This achievement, coupled with his earlier efforts to advise the federal government on the operations of the U.S. Coast Survey and the Smithsonian Institution, revealed Agassiz in the prime of his American influence and international prestige.

By 1873, despite Darwin, Agassiz’s name was synonymous with the study of natural history. It was fitting that in that last year of his life he established the Anderson School of Natural History on Penikese Island, off the Massachusetts coast, as a combined summer school and marine biological station. In testimony to Agassiz’s American influence, the faculty of the school was entirely composed of his former students. The Poissans fossiles and Etudes sur les glaciers were high points of Agassiz’s career in Europe; in America, the life and work of such students as William James, David Starr Jordan, Alexander Agassiz, Frederick Ward Putnam, and Nathaniel Southgate Shaler exemplify his role and cultural significance.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Bibliographies of Agassiz’s writings are in his Bibliographia zoologiae et geologiae, 4 vols. (London, 1848–1854), 1, 98–103; Jules Marcou, Life, Letters, and Works of Louis Agassiz (see below), II, 258–303: and Max Meisel, A Bibliography of American Natural History, 3 vols. (New York, 1924–1929), passim. Among his significant works are Selecia genera et species piscium guns in itinere per Brasiliam 1817–1830... (Munich, 1829); Recherches cur les poissons fossiles, 5 vols.(Neuchatel, 1833–1844); Monographies d’ichinodermes rivans et /ossi/es.. 4 vols. (Neuchatel, 1838–1842): Etudes cur les glaciers (Neuchatel, 1840): Twelve Lectures on Comparative Embryology (Boston, 1849): Lake Superior(Boston, 1850); Contributions to the Natural History of the United States, 4 vols. (Boston, 1857–1862); Essay on Classification (London, 1859), also ed., with intro.. by Edward Lurie (Cambridge, Mass., 1962); Geological Sketches(Boston. 1866): “Evolution and Permanence of Type,” in Atlantic Monthhc, 33 (Jan. 1874), 94–101; and Geological Sketches. Second Series (Boston, 1876). Lake Superior (Boston, 1850); Contributions to the Natural History of the United States, 4 vols. (Boston, 1857–1862); Essay on Classification (London, 1859), also ed., with intro., by Edward Lurie (Cambridge, Mass., 1962); Geological Sketches (Boston, 1866); “Evolution and Permanence of Type,” in Atlantic Monthly. 33 (Jan. 1874), 94–101; and Geological Sketches, Second Series (Boston, 1876).

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Agassiz are Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, ed., Louis Agassiz, His Life and Correspondence, 2 vols. (Boston, 1885); Lane Cooper, Louis Agassiz as a Teacher, rev. ed. (Ithaca, N.Y., 1945); Edward Lurie, Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science (Chicago, 1960); Jules Marcou, Life, Letters, and Works of Louis Agassiz. 2 vols. (New York, 1896); and Ernst Mayr, “Agassiz, Darwin and Evolution,” in Harvard Library Bulletin. 13 (Spring 1959), 165–194.

Edward Lurie

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Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873), a Swiss-American naturalist, was an outstanding comparative anatomist. He promulgated the glacial theory and opposed Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

Paleontology was just beginning to emerge as a science during Agassiz's time; speculations about the distribution of species and their relationships to each other were becoming a major preoccupation of naturalists, and science was taking on an increasingly important place in the curricula of educational institutions. Agassiz played an important role in all these developments, both in Europe and in America.

Louis Agassiz was born at Môtier-en-Vuly in French Switzerland on May 28, 1807. His father, the last of a line of seven Protestant clergymen, instilled in Louis the religious qualities that marked his life, and his mother, Rose Mayor Agassiz, encouraged the precocious taste for science that led him to neglect his books in order to collect a huge assortment of pets.

Early Education

Destined for a career in medicine, Agassiz was sent to school at Bienne at the age of 10, and at 15 to the College of Lausanne. In 1824 he began medical training at the University of Zurich, and in 1826 he matriculated at Heidelberg, where his interest in natural history increased under the influence of the distinguished staff, which included Friedrich Tiedemann and Heinrich Bronn. In the following year at the University of Munich, he came under the lasting influence of Ignaz von Döllinger, a pioneer embryologist.

While at Munich, Agassiz, then only 21 years old, published the work that launched him on his long and distinguished scientific career, The Fishes of Brazil (1829), prepared from the collections of two eminent naturalists, J.B. von Spix and Karl von Martius. This was the most important account of a local fish fauna published to that time. During the following winter he began work on his Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (1833-1844).

Influence of Cuvier

Agassiz moved to Paris in the fall of 1831. Still pursuing medical studies, he nevertheless spent a part of each day with the fossil fish collection in the Museum of Natural History of the Jardin des Plantes. Georges Cuvier, the brilliant comparative anatomist (who at this time was developing a new system of animal classification), immediately became interested in the young naturalist, gave him a corner in one of his own laboratories, and offered him the material he himself had been collecting for years for his own work on fishes. Agassiz worked under Cuvier and adopted his views of the plan of creation, which put Agassiz bitterly at odds with all "developmental" or evolutionary theories.

Cuvier had noted the succession of types in geological history but saw no genetic connection between any of the four great classes he recognized—Vertebrates, Articulates, Mollusks, and Radiates. Working with Cuvier's delineation of types, Agassiz regarded his own investigations as glimpses into the divine plan, of which the structures of the types were the expression. Divine ideas, he held, were especially embodied in animal life, each species being the "thought unit." Agassiz viewed the marvel of structural affinity in creatures of widely diverse habits and outward appearance as a result of the association of ideas in the divine mind— not, as Charles Darwin thought, as proof of common descent. Agassiz further developed the notion that species were created in the localities where they were destined to pass their lives, that is, common forms found in widely separated areas were proof not of migration but of separate creation. Throughout his life he used these ideas to combat every form of evolutionism.

Work on Glaciers

While teaching at Neuchâtel in 1836, Agassiz became interested in glacial action. He concluded that it had probably been a major agency in shaping the topography from the North Pole to the Mediterranean and Caspian seas. He studied ongoing glacial action and other parts of Europe, and in 1840 he published his first comprehensive discussion in études sur les glaciers (2 vols.). This was followed by other works in 1846 and 1847, in which he established his expanding theory of general glacial action wherever the earth's surface bears drift material and polished or striated erratic boulders.

Move to America

Agassiz left for America in September 1846. On his arrival in Boston, the following month, he was hailed as an internationally famous scientist and was lionized by the scientific community. He gave lectures at Lowell Institute and embarked on an extremely successful lecture tour, which included most of the major eastern cities. Charmed by the enthusiastic receptions he received, convinced that America offered unprecedented opportunities for a naturalist, and disturbed by political problems in Europe, Agassiz decided to make America his permanent home. In 1848 he accepted the chair of zoology and geology that had been created especially for him by Abbott Lawrence at Harvard University. His first wife had died in Switzerland, and in 1850 he married Elizabeth Cabot Cary of Boston. His son, Alexander, and two daughters joined their father in America.

Although Agassiz remained America's most popular naturalist until his death and gained a reputation as a great teacher, he produced no more works of the caliber of those published in Europe. His Contributions to the Natural History of the United States (1857-1862), a projected 10-volume work of which only 4 were published, was his most ambitious undertaking. Its most important portion, the "Essay on Classification," was a statement of the idealistic point of view about to become outmoded because of the Darwinian revolution. Agassiz had no sooner published his first volume than he embarked on a bitter debate with Asa Gray, a fellow Harvard professor and enemy of several years' standing, over the theory of evolution.

Institutional Accomplishments

Agassiz was a fund-raiser without parallel in 19th-century American science. He was instrumental in securing legislative grants and private gifts to establish Harvard's museum of comparative anatomy, where an enormous working collection for the specialist and a series of displays for general instruction were assembled. He became the museum director in 1859. The museum's profound influence during the next few decades as a center of scientific research and study can hardly be exaggerated. With other members of the elite group of American scientists (led by Alexander Dallas Bache) with whom he had become associated, Agassiz helped found the National Academy of Sciences during the Civil War. Only a few months before his death, Agassiz secured an endowment to establish a summer school of science on Penikese Island, which became the first American teacher-training institute. Here teachers learned to see nature and to teach others how to see it by the method of direct experience that Agassiz had used successfully at Harvard.

Agassiz was ill at frequent intervals for several years. He died in Cambridge on Dec. 14, 1873. His last work, another argument against the theory of evolution, appeared in the Atlantic Monthly shortly afterward.

Further Reading

The outstanding work on Agassiz is Edward Lurie, Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science (1960). Other works are valuable for his correspondence and for assessment by contemporaries: Arnold Guyot, Memoir of Louis Agassiz, 1807-1873 (1883); Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, ed., Louis Agassiz: His Life and Correspondence (2 vols., 1885), especially important for the many letters to and from eminent European and American scientists; Jules Marcou, Life, Letters, and Works of Louis Agassiz (2 vols., 1896), which includes a complete bibliography; and Lane Cooper, Louis Agassiz as a Teacher (1917; rev. ed. 1945), which offers testimony of students about Agassiz's methods. For general background on Agassiz's mode of thought, John T. Merz, A History of European Thought in the Nineteenth Century (4 vols., 1904-1912), is still without a rival. A. Hunter Dupree, Science in the Federal Government (1957), gives the institutional background for Agassiz's work in America. □

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Agassiz, Louis (1807-1873)

Agassiz, Louis (1807-1873)

Swiss-born American naturalist

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was born in Motieren-Vuly, Switzerland, and grew up appreciating the beauty of the Swiss Alps. Agassiz's childhood was supervised by his minister father, who believed that supernatural powers created all natural wonders. Agassiz followed his family's wishes and pursued a degree in medicine. After attending the universities in Munich and Heidelberg, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland, he eventually earned his Ph.D. in 1829.

Upon his graduation from the University of Munich, Agassiz published a monograph on the fish of Brazil that sparked the attention of the noted French anatomist Georges Cuvier . Although he possessed a strong interest in zoology, Agassiz went on to earn a medical degree. In 1832, he went to Paris to serve as an apprentice to Cuvier during that renowned scientist's last years.

Agassiz then accepted his first professional position as a professor of natural history at Neuchatel in Switzerland. For his first project, he published a five-volume work on fossil fish. This work helped establish his reputation as a naturalist and earned him the Wollaston Prize.

Agassiz then shifted his attention to the study of glaciers . Among many others, Agassiz was fascinated with the extreme heights of the Alps and the occasional sight of huge boulders that were thought to have been created by glacial movement. He spent his vacations in 1836 and 1837 exploring the glacial formations of Switzerland and compared them with the geology of England and central Europe .

The question of whether or not glaciers moved intrigued Agassiz, who discovered the answer in 1839 at a cabin that had been built on a glacier approximately 10 years earlier. In one decade it had moved nearly 1 mi (1.6 km) down the glacier from its original site. In a unique experiment, Agassiz drove a straight line of stakes deeply into the ice across the glacierhill and then observed their movement. After moving, the stakes formed a U shape as middle stakes had moved more quickly than the side ones. Agassiz concluded that the center stakes moved faster since the glacier was held back at the edges by friction with the mountain wall.

This experiment demonstrated not only that glacier moved, but that many thousands of years before massive ice blocks had probably moved across a great deal of the European land masses that now lacked the massive ice formations. The resulting conclusions led to the term Ice Age, which purported that glacial movement is responsible for modern geological configurations. One of the most significant developments that came out of his observations resulted when his discovery helped provide answers to studies pursued by such naturalists as Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell . These two men concluded that glaciation was a primary mechanism in causing the geographical distribution and apparent similarities of flora and fauna that were otherwise inexplicably separated by land and water masses. Despite the evidence with which he was presented, Agassiz's background prevented him from agreeing with such conclusions, and he continued to believe that supernatural forces were responsible for the similarities.

See also Glacial landforms; Ice ages

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Agassiz, Louis

Agassiz, Louis

Swiss-American Zoologist and Geologist
18071873

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz has been called the "Father of Glaciology" and the "First Naturalist." One of the greatest contributors to the science of water, he discovered evidence of a time when the frozen state of water changed Earth's landscape: the Ice Age.

Born in Switzerland, Agassiz developed his love of nature from exploring the wilderness as a child. Receiving doctorate degrees in medicine and natural history at the University of Munich in Germany, he first distinguished himself by his work with fossil fish. While teaching and continuing his research at a college in Neuchatel, Switzerland, however, he acquired a new passion: glaciers .

Fellow scientist Jean de Charpentier introduced Agassiz to the concept of glaciation on a larger scale. In that time, scientists thought that either the biblical flood or icebergs caused geological features such as misplaced boulders and grooved, polished rock. However, through the careful observational methods for which he was known, Agassiz discovered that they were indeed products of glacial movement. Because these features were found throughout Europe in areas where there were no present glaciers, Agassiz deduced that at one time global climatic changes produced giant sheets of ice that covered the Northern Hemisphere on a continental scale.

In 1840, Agassiz published his findings as "Etudes sur les Glaciers." Although many scholars at first opposed his ideas, the Ice Age theory was soon accepted around the world. Agassiz continued his teaching and research in the United States, where he became a professor of natural history at Harvard University and founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology, which is still part of the university today. Agassiz also helped create both the National Academy of Sciences and Cornell University, dedicating the rest of his life to expanding knowledge of, and promoting enthusiasm for, natural history.

see also Glaciers and Ice Sheets; Glaciers, Ice Sheets, And climate Change; Ice Ages.

Amy B. Parmenter

Bibliography

Gordon, John E. "Early Development of the Glacial Theory: Louis Agassiz and theScottish Connection." Geology Today 11, no. 2 (1995):6468.

Lurie, Edward. Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science. Chicago, IL: The University of ChicagoPress, 1960.

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Agassiz, Louis

Louis Agassiz (Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz) (zhäN lwē rôdôlf´ ăg´əsē), 1807–73, Swiss-American zoologist and geologist, b. Môtiers-en-Vuly, Switzerland. He studied at the universities of Zürich, Erlangen (Ph.D., 1829), Heidelberg, and Munich (M.D., 1830). Agassiz practiced medicine briefly, but his real interest lay in scientific research. In 1831 he went to Paris, where he became a close friend of Alexander von Humboldt and studied fossil fishes under the guidance of Cuvier. In 1832 he became a professor of natural history at the Univ. of Neuchâtel, which he made a noted center for scientific study. Among his publications during this period were Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (5 vol. and atlas, 1833–44), a work of historic importance in the field (although his system of classification by scales has been discarded); studies of fossil echinoderms and mollusks; and Étude sur les glaciers (1840), one of the first expositions of glacial movements and deposits, based on his own observations and measurements.

Agassiz came to the United States in 1846 and two years later accepted the professorship of zoology and geology at Harvard. His first wife died in Germany in 1848, and in 1850 in Cambridge he married Elizabeth Cabot Cary (see Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary). In the United States he was primarily a teacher and very popular lecturer. His influence extended to the fields of zoology, paleontology, geology, anatomy, and glaciology. Emphasizing advanced and original work, he gave major impetus to the study of science directly from nature and influenced a generation of American scientists. His extensive research expeditions included one along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Americas from Boston to California (1871–72). His Contributions to the Natural History of the United States (4 vol., 1857–62) includes his famous "Essay on Classification," an extension of the theory of recapitulation to geologic time. Despite his own evidences for evolution, Agassiz opposed Darwinism and believed that new species could arise only through the intervention of God.

See biographies by J. Marcou (including letters, 1896), J. D. Teller (1947), E. Lurie (1960, repr. 1967), and C. Irmscher (2013); L. Cooper, Louis Agassiz as a Teacher (rev. ed. 1945).

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Agassiz, JeanLouisRodolphe

Agassiz, JeanLouisRodolphe (1807–73)A Swiss geologist who worked initially on fossil fish, Agassiz is better known for his glacial theory (1837). He met the geologist William Buckland (1784–1856) in 1840, and persuaded him that drift deposits in Britain were evidence of a glacial epoch. In 1846 he moved to the USA to become professor of zoology and geology at Harvard, where he founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology (1859).

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Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe

Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe (1807–73) A Swiss geologist who worked initially on fossil fish, Agassiz is better known for his glacial theory (1837). He met Buckland in 1840, and persuaded him that drift deposits in Britain were evidence of a glacial epoch. In 1846 he moved to the USA to become professor of zoology and geology at Harvard, where he founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology (1859).

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"Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/agassiz-jean-louis-rodolphe

"Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved May 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/agassiz-jean-louis-rodolphe