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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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Edward Bancroft’s Guiana Eels and London Connections

Edward Bancroft’s Guiana Eels and London Connections

(p.217) Chapter 14 Edward Bancroft’s Guiana Eels and London Connections
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Oxford University Press

This chapter centers on what Edward Bancroft, a New Englander who became close to Franklin and who was elected a member of the Royal Society with his help, wrote about the South American eels. During the 1760s, Bancroft had practiced medicine and surgery in Guiana, as had Ingram before him, where he too had the opportunity to study the eels feared by the natives. Franklin had no way of knowing at the time that Bancroft would serve as a double agent during the American War of Independence. But he was quick to appreciate the case made by Bancroft for animal electricity, and fully understood why scientists of the famed Royal Society should mobilize to pursue additional groundbreaking research in this field.

Keywords:   South American eels, animal electricity, Royal Society of London, Edward Bancroft, research

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