Louis Agassiz, Swiss-US geologist

Louis Agassiz, Swiss-US geologist

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873), Swiss-US geologist and palaeontologist, teaching at a blackboard. Agassiz became one of the most celebrated scientists of the 19th century, establishing his name through a huge study of fossil fish which he published between 1833 and 1844. Agassiz is also remembered for his work on glaciation where he showed that glaciers advanced and retreated over time. He is generally credited with the discovery of the ice ages. However, he was a staunch believer in the immutability of species, and in the polygenic racial history of man. He was Darwin's main opponent in the USA and is now criticised for racist views which at times seem beyond even the 19th century 'white average'. Carte de visite photograph.

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