Naturalist. Born in Paris, France, on January 29, 1759, Bosc was the son of Paul Bosc d’Antic and Marie-Angélique Lamy d’Hangest. His father was a glassmaker and physician who was acquainted with most of the great naturalists of that time. Louis acquired an interest in natural history at an early age and attended the College of Dijon, but little is known of his studies there.
Bosc joined the French postal service in Paris at age eighteen and began to attend natural history lectures at the Garden of the King, where he met prominent French naturalists such as Buffon and Jussieu. Through them he gained a broad view of the natural world, his interests extending from plants to both vertebrate and invertebrate zoology. At the Garden of the King he also became a friend of the botanist-horticulturist André Michaux. Bosc’s first scientific paper, published in 1784, was the description of a new genus among the cochineal insects. During the early 1790s he continued to publish notes on insects, mollusks, birds, and plants. He was active in the French Revolution but lost his position with the postal service. Wishing to escape the turmoil of postrevolutionary France, Bosc decided to visit Michaux at the French Garden of the Republic near Charleston, South Carolina, with the hopes of collecting natural history material while awaiting the possibility of appointment to a consular position in the United States.
Bosc and his fourteen-year-old son, Louis, arrived in Charleston in October 1796, but Bosc was shocked to learn that Michaux had gone to France. With no prospect of working with Michaux, Bosc had to fend for himself and set about collecting natural history specimens. He made frequent trips into the woods and swamps near Charleston and sent specimens and descriptions of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, worms, mollusks, and plants to his colleagues at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Among his discoveries were four species of frogs (among them the handsome green tree frog, Hyla cinerea), three of turtles, and one species of lizard, found during his stay in Charleston. He also collected three new species of fish in Charleston harbor. He was especially interested in invertebrates, and the names of fourteen new species of coelenterates, mollusks, worms, and crabs that he described from South Carolina are still valid today, among them the familiar fiddler crab (Uca pugilator) of coastal salt marshes.
Bosc returned to Paris in 1798 and the following year married his cousin Suzanne Bosc. Among his many publications, the most important was a ten-volume work on the natural history of worms, mollusks, and crustaceans (1802). In 1825 he became a professor at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. An accomplished naturalist who devoted himself to science without thought of personal gain, Bosc was an important figure in his time. He died in Paris on July 10, 1828.
Beale, Georgia R. “Bosc and the Exequatur.” Prologue 10 (fall 1978): 133–51. Harper, Francis. “Some Works of Bartram, Daudin, Latreille, and Sonnini, and Their Bearing upon North American Herpetological Nomenclature.”
American Midland Naturalist 23 (May 1940): 692–723. Hellmayr, C. E. “Louis Bosc, Ornitologue Oublié.” Alauda, 1st ser., 2d year, no. 2 (April 1930): 122–32. Sanders, Albert E., and William D. Anderson, Jr. Natural History Investigations in South Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.