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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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Alexander Garden: A Linnaean in South Carolina and Captain Baker’s Eels

Alexander Garden: A Linnaean in South Carolina and Captain Baker’s Eels

(p.269) Chapter 18 Alexander Garden: A Linnaean in South Carolina and Captain Baker’s Eels
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Oxford University Press

The previous chapter showed the first of the important North American contributions to the electric fish story, specifically a series of experiments conducted by members of the American Philosophical Society, including one showing that the discharge from an eel could jump a minute gap in a wire, even though no spark was perceived at that time. This chapter now turns to what transpired in South Carolina, and specifically the role played by Alexander Garden in the continuing saga of how these eels increasingly became to be perceived as electrical in America and in Europe. Garden was an ardent follower of Carl Linnaeus, and although not an experimentalist of the first rank, he was a superb naturalist with exceptionally sharp eyes who was very interested in classification and preservation, especially when it came to nature's oddities from the New World.

Keywords:   South Carolina, electric eel, Alexander Garden, electricity, Carl Linnaeus

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