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The Shocking History of Electric FishesFrom Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology$
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Stanley Finger and Marco Piccolino

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.001.0001

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The “Eels” of South America

The “Eels” of South America

Chapter:
(p.127) Chapter 8 The “Eels” of South America
Source:
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes
Author(s):

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.003.0008

This chapter describes how the first bits of news about the existence of the new “tremble fish” reached Europe when zoology was being reshaped by exotica from newly discovered lands, and when the first illustrated fish books were being published. None of the late 16th-century ichthyologists, however, mentioned this new shocking fish, which would be dubbed the “electric eel” in the second half of the 18th century. Further, it would be a century before this fish would be included in zoological works. The discovery of the eel stemmed from voyages to the New World that involved trade routes and the promise of riches, as well as from missionaries and early settlers venturing into the territories that were opened. The history of European travels in this part of the world started with Columbus and his search for New World riches.

Keywords:   tremble fish, electric eel, columbus, new world, zoology

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