Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Agassiz, Jean-Louis Rodolphe

Swiss-born US geologist and zoologist trained by Cuvier. Founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology (1859) while at Harvard University (1847-73). Agassiz constructed lasting hypotheses regarding the dynamics of glaciation and the Ice Age, and was also well known for his study of fossil fish. Because he criticized Darwinism as unscientific and mischievous and tried to discredit Asa Gray, Agassiz was abandoned by his students, including his marine biologist son, in favor of Darwinism. Agassiz embraced racism and polygenism, and supported Cuvier’s theory of catastrophism.

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