Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz Essay

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Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz

(1807-1873)

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was born in Motier, Switzerland on May 28, 1807. Born the son of a Protestant pastor, Louis Agassiz was raised in a religious environment but clearly possessed a deep interest in natural history and science. “I spent most of the time I could spare…in hunting the neighboring woods and meadows for birds, insects, and land and fresh water shells” (Lurie 9). Throughout his childhood and adolescence, his curiosities about nature and its origins drove him to become a prominent figure in natural history, zoology, and ichthyology.

Louis Agassiz commenced his education in natural history at the universities of Zurich, Heidelberg, and Munich (Lurie x). After
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In 1857, Contributions to the Natural History of the United States was published, of which the greater portion of volume one became Essay on Classification (Lurie introduction). In this text, Agassiz made comparisons between animals and their specific environments, theorized the relations between them, and proposed systems of zoological order. This work came at a time of significant discoveries as well as changes in biology. During these years other noteworthy biologists and comparative anatomists such as Huxley, Joseph Dalton Hooker, and Darwin were beginning to also assemble a framework for natural history (Lurie xxiii). Throughout Essay, Agassiz depicted clearly his standpoint as a supporter of special creationism.

Chapter one of Essay on Classification examined the relations of animals to each other and their environments. The basis behind this work established the groundwork for his belief in evidence of a creator through the obvious design of creation in nature. Frequently exploring the immutability of species, Agassiz depicted the overall plan and structure of an organism to be more important than any variation that may occur in a species (Agassiz 19-20). In addition, he also addressed the question of how and when species appeared on earth. With his extensive background with the fossil record, he theorized, as seen in chapter 1, section VII, that every great type of…

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