When Natural History and History Collide
Speaker: Lee Alan Dugatkin, Professor of Biology & Distinguished University Scholar, University of Louisville
"Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose" is a tale of both natural history and American history. The story revolves around three fascinating individuals.
One of these characters — Thomas Jefferson — is known to every schoolchild.
The other two characters — 1) the French Count and world-renowned naturalist, George-Louis Leclerc Buffon, who claimed that all life in America was "degenerate," weak and feeble, and 2) a very large, dead moose — are less well known, but equally important to the story. Their interactions lay at the heart of an amazing tale in which Jefferson obsessed over the moose that he believed could help quash early French arrogance toward a fledgling republic in America, and demonstrate that a young America was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe.
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