Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (11 May 1752 – 22 January 1840) was a German physician, naturalist, physiologist, and anthropologist. He was one of the first to explore the study of the human being as an aspect of natural history. His teachings in comparative anatomy were applied to his classification of human races, of which he claimed there were five, popularizing the term Caucasian for people of those of generally found in Europe, Western Asia, India, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa (including Somalia and Ethiopia).[2] He was a member of the Göttingen School of History.

Blumenbach's peers considered him one of the great theorists of his day, and he was a mentor or influence on many of the next generation of German biologists, including Alexander von Humboldt.[3]

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.jpeg
Born11 May 1752
Died22 January 1840 (aged 87)
Alma materUniversity of Jena
University of Göttingen
Known forcomparative anatomy
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorChristian Wilhelm Büttner[1]
Other academic advisorsErnst Gottfried Baldinger
Christian Gottlob Heyne
Doctoral studentsJohann Heinrich Friedrich Link
Friedrich Stromeyer
Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold
Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich (1752-1840)
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, pencil drawing by Ludwig Emil Grimm.

Early life and education

Blumenbach was born at his family house in Gotha.[4] His father was Heinrich Blumenbach, a local school headmaster; his mother was Charlotte Eleonore Hedwig Buddeus.[5] He was born into a well-connected family of academics.[4]

Blumenbach studied medicine at Jena, and then at Göttingen. He was recognized as a prodigy by the age sixteen in 1768.[4] He graduated from the latter in 1775 with his M.D. thesis De generis humani varietate nativa (On the Natural Variety of Mankind, University of Göttingen, which was first published in 1775, then re-issued with changes to the title-page in 1776). It is considered one of the most influential works in the development of subsequent concepts of "human races."[6][7] It contained the germ of the craniological research to which so many of his subsequent inquiries were directed.[8]


He was appointed extraordinary professor of medicine and inspector of the museum of natural history in Göttingen in 1776 and ordinary professor in 1778.[7] His contributions soon began to enrich the pages of the Medicinische Bibliothek, of which he was editor from 1780 to 1794, with various contributions on medicine, physiology, and anatomy. In physiology, he was of the school of Albrecht von Haller, and was in the habit of illustrating his theory by a careful comparison of the animal functions of man with those of other animals.[8] Following Baron Cuvier's identification, Blumenbach gave the woolly mammoth its first scientific name, Elephas primigenius (first-born elephant), in 1799.

His reputation was much extended by the publication of his Institutiones Physiologicae (1787), a condensed, well-arranged view of the animal functions, expounded without discussion of minute anatomical details. Between its first publication and 1821, it went through many editions in Germany, where it was the general textbook of the science of physiology. It was translated into English in America by Charles Caldwell (Philadelphia 1798), and in London by John Elliotson (1807).[8]

He was perhaps still more extensively known by his Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie ("Handbook of comparative anatomy"), which passed through numerous German editions from its appearance in 1805 to 1824. It was translated into English in 1809 by the surgeon Sir William Lawrence, and again, with improvements and additions, by William Coulson in 1827. This manual, though slighter than the subsequent works of Cuvier, Carus, and others, and not to be compared with such later expositions as that of Gegenbaur, was long esteemed for the accuracy of the author's own observations, and his just appreciation of the labors of his predecessors.[8]

Although the greatest part of Blumenbach's life was passed at Göttingen, in 1789 he visited Switzerland, and gave a curious medical topography of that country in the Bibliothek. He was in England in 1788 and 1792. He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London in 1793[9] and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1794.[10] In 1808 he became a correspondent, living abroad, of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands. In 1827 this changed to associated member.[11] In 1812 he was appointed secretary to the Royal Society of Sciences at Göttingen, in 1816 was appointed physician to the royal family in Hanover (German: Obermedizinalrat) by the prince regent, in 1821 was made a knight-commander of the Guelphic Order, and in 1831 was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences at Paris. In celebration of his doctoral jubilee (1825) traveling scholarships were founded to assist talented young physicians and naturalists. In 1813, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1835 he retired. Blumenbach died in Göttingen in 1840.[7][8]

Racial anthropology

Blumenbach's five races
Blumenbach's five races.

Blumenbach's work included his description of sixty human crania (skulls) published originally in fascicules as Decas craniorum (Göttingen, 1790–1828). This was a founding work for other scientists in the field of craniometry. He divided the human species into five races in 1779, later founded on crania research (description of human skulls), and called them (1793/1795):

  • the Caucasian or white race. Blumenbach was the first to use this term for people of European, Middle Eastern, and North African origin, believing that the people of the Caucasus were the most beautiful of the world.[2]
  • the Mongolian or yellow race, including all East Asians and some Central Asians.
  • the Malayan or brown race, including Southeast Asian and Pacific Islanders.
  • the Ethiopian or black race, including sub-Saharan Africans.
  • the American or red race, including American Indians.

Further anatomical study led him to the conclusion that 'individual Africans differ as much, or even more, from other Africans as from Europeans'.

Blumenbach argued that physical characteristics like skin color, cranial profile, etc., depended on geography, diet, and mannerism.

Like other monogenists such as Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, Blumenbach held to the "degenerative hypothesis" of racial origins. Blumenbach claimed that Adam and Eve were Caucasian inhabitants of Asia (see Asia hypothesis),[12] and that other races came about by degeneration from environmental factors such as the sun and poor diet. Thus, he claimed, Negroid pigmentation arose because of the result of the heat of the tropical sun, while the cold wind caused the tawny colour of the Eskimos, and the Chinese were fair-skinned compared to the other Asian stocks because they kept mostly in towns protected from environmental factors. He believed that the degeneration could be reversed in a proper environmental control and that all contemporary forms of man could revert to the original Caucasian race.[13]

Moreover, he concluded that Africans were not inferior to the rest of mankind 'concerning healthy faculties of understanding, excellent natural talents and mental capacities',[14] and wrote the following:

Finally, I am of opinion that after all these numerous instances I have brought together of negroes of capacity, it would not be difficult to mention entire well-known provinces of Europe, from out of which you would not easily expect to obtain off-hand such good authors, poets, philosophers, and correspondents of the Paris Academy; and on the other hand, there is no so-called savage nation known under the sun which has so much distinguished itself by such examples of perfectibility and original capacity for scientific culture, and thereby attached itself so closely to the most civilized nations of the earth, as the Negro.[15]

He did not consider his "degenerative hypothesis" as racist and sharply criticized Christoph Meiners, an early practitioner of scientific racialism, as well as Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring, who concluded from autopsies that Africans were an inferior race.[16] Blumenbach wrote three other essays stating non-white peoples are capable of excelling in arts and sciences in reaction against racialists of his time.[17]

These ideas were far less influential. His ideas were adopted by other researchers who used them to encourage scientific racism.[18] Blumenbach's work was used by many biologists and comparative anatomists in the nineteenth century who were interested in the origin of races, including Wells, Lawrence, Prichard, Huxley, and William Flower.

Printing and the Mind of Man says that "Blumenbach [developed] the thesis that all living races are varieties of a single species ... Blumenbach was opposed to the practice of slavery and the then current belief in the inherent savagery of the coloured races".[19]

Other natural studies

In his dissertation, Blumenbach mentioned the name Simia troglodytes in connection with a short description for the common chimpanzee. This dissertation was printed and appeared in September 1775, but only for internal use in the University of Göttingen and not for providing a public record. The public print of his dissertation appeared in 1776.[20] Blumenbach knew that Linnaeus had already established a name Homo troglodytes for a badly known primate, and in 1779 he discussed this Linnean name and concluded correctly that Linnaeus had been dealing with two species, a human and an orangutan, neither of which was a chimpanzee, and that by consequence the name Homo troglodytes could not be used. Blumenbach was one of the first scientists to understand the identities of the different species of primates, which were (excluding humans) orangutans and chimpanzees. (Gorillas were not known to Europeans at this time). In Opinion 1368 the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) decided in 1985 that Blumenbach's view should be followed, and that his Simia troglodytes as published by Blumenbach in 1779 shall be the type species of the genus Pan and, since it was the oldest available name for the common chimpanzee, be used for this species.[21] However, the commission did not know that Blumenbach had already mentioned this name in his dissertation. Following the rules of the ICZN Code the scientific name of one of the most well-known African animals, currently known as Pan troglodytes, must carry Blumenbach's name combined with the date 1776.[22]

Blumenbach shortly afterward wrote a manual of natural history entitled Handbuch der Naturgeschichte; 12 editions and some translations. It was published first in Göttingen by J. C. Dieterich in 1779/1780. He was also one of the first scientists to study the anatomy of the platypus, assigning the scientific name Ornithorhynchus paradoxus to the animal, being unaware George Shaw had already given it the name Platypus anatinus. However, Platypus had already been shown to be used for the scientific name for a genus of Ambrosia beetles so Blumenbach's scientific name for the genus was used.[23]


Blumenbach made many contributions to the scientific debates of the last half of the 18th century regarding evolution and creation. His central contribution was in the conception of a vis formativus or Bildungstrieb, an inborn force within an organism that led it to create, maintain, and repair its shape.[24]


Enlightenment science and philosophy essentially held a static view of nature and man, but vital nature continued to interrupt this view, and the issue of life, the creation of life and its varieties, increasingly occupied attention and "starting in the 1740s the concept of vital power reentered the scene of generation ... there must be some 'productive power' in nature that enabled unorganized material to generate new living forms."[25]

Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon wrote an influential work in 1749, Natural History, that revived interest in vital nature. Buffon held that there were certain penetrating powers which organised the organic particles that made up the living organism. Erasmus Darwin translated Buffon's idea of organic particles into "molecules with formative propensities" and in Germany Buffon's idea of an internal order, moule interieur arising out of the action of the penetrating powers was translated into German as Kraft (power).[25]

The German term for vital power or living power, Lebenskraft, as distinct from chemical or physical forces, first appeared with Medicus's on the Lebenskraft (1774).[25] Scientists were now forced to consider hidden and mysterious powers of and in living matter that resisted physical laws – warm-blooded animals maintaining a consistent temperature despite changing outside temperatures, for example.

In 1759, Caspar Friedrich Wolff, a German embryologist provided evidence for the ancient idea of epigenesis, that is preformed life, that is a chick out of unformed substance and his dispute with von Haller brought the issue of life to the forefront of natural science and philosophy. Wolff identified an "essential power" (essentliche Kraft, or vis essentialis) that allowed structure to be a result of power, "the very power through which, in the vegetable body, all those things which we describe as life are effected."[25]

Blumenbach's Bildungstrieb

While Wolff was not concerned to name this vital organising, reproducing power, in 1789 his successor at the Göttingen school of physiology, Blumenbach, posited a formative drive (nisus formativus or Bildungstrieb) responsible for biological "procreation, nourishment, and reproduction," as well as self-development and self-perfection on a cultural level.[26]

Blumenbach held that all living organisms "from man down to maggots, and from the cedar to common mould or mucor," possess an inherent "effort or tendency which, while life continues, is active and operative; in the first instance to attain the definite form of the species, then to preserve it entire, and, when it is infringed upon, so far as this is possible, to restore it." This power of vitality is "not referable to any qualities merely physical, chemical, or mechanical."[25]

Blumenbach compared the uncertainty about the origin and ultimate nature of the formative drive to similar uncertainties about gravitational attraction: "just in the same way as we use the name of attraction or gravity to denote certain forces, the causes of which however still remain hid, as they say, in Cimmerian darkness, the formative force (nisus formativus) can explain the generation of animals."[25]

At the same time, befitting the central idea of the science and medicine of dynamic polarity, it was also the physiological functional identity of what theorists of society or mind called "aspiration." "Blumenbach's Bildungstrieb found quick passage into evolutionary theorizing of the decade following its formulation and in the thinking of the German natural philosophers (p. 245)[27]

One of Blumenbach's contemporaries, Samuel Hahnemann, undertook to study in detail how this generative, reproductive and creative power, which he termed the Erzeugungskraft of the Lebenskraft of living power of the organism, could be negatively affected by inimical agents to engender disease.

Blumenbach and Kant on Bildungstrieb

Kant is said by several modern author to have relied on Blumenbach's biological concept of formative power in developing his idea of organic purpose.[25][28]

Kant wrote to Blumenbach in 1790 to praise his concept of the formative force (Bildungstrieb). However, whereas Kant had a heuristic concept in mind, to explain mechanical causes, Blumenbach conceived of a cause fully resident in nature. From this he would argue that the Bildungstrieb was central to the creation of new species. Though Blumenbach left no overt indications of sources for his theory of biological revolution, his ideas harmonize with those of Bonnet and especially with those of his contemporary Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), and it was Herder whose ideas were influenced by Blumenbach. Blumenbach continued to refine the concept in his De nisu formativo et generationis negotio ('On the Formative Drive and the Operation of Generation', 1787) and in the second edition (1788) of the Handbuch der Naturgeschichte: 'it is a proper force (eigentliche Kraft), whose undeniable existence and extensive effects are apparent throughout the whole of nature and revealed by experience'.[29] He consolidated these in the second edition of Über den Bildungstrieb.

Blumenbach had initially been an advocate of Haller's view, in contrast to those of Wolff, that the essential elements of the embryo were already in the egg, he later sided with Wolff. Blumenbach provided evidence for the actual existence of this formative force, to distinguish it from other, merely nominal terms.

The way in which the Bildungstrieb differed, perhaps, from other such forces was in its comprehensive architectonic character: it directed the formation of anatomical structures and the operations of physiological processes of the organism so that various parts would come into existence and function interactively to achieve the ends of the species.[29]

Influence on German biology

Blumenbach was regarded as a leading light of German science by his contemporaries. Kant and Friedrich Schelling both called him "one of the most profound biological theorists of the modern era.[30] In the words of science historian Peter Watson, "roughly half the German biologists during the early nineteenth century studied under him or were inspired by him: Alexander von Humboldt, Carl Friedrich Kielmeyer, Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus, Heinrich Friedrich Link, Johann Friedrich Meckel, Johannes Illiger, and Rudolph Wagner."[31]

See also


  1. ^ Chemistry Tree profile Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
  2. ^ a b Gould, Stephen Jay. "The Geometer of Race." Discover Magazine. November 1, 1994. Accessed April 28, 2018.
  3. ^ Watson, Peter. The German Genius. New York: Harper, 2010. p. 81.
  4. ^ a b c Painter, Nell (2010). The History of White People. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-393-04934-3.
  5. ^ "Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. p. 94.
  6. ^ Biographical details are in Charles Coulston Gillispie, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1970:203f s.v. "Johann Friederich Blumenbach".
  7. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  8. ^ a b c d e Wikisource This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBaynes, T.S., ed. (1878). "Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (9th ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  9. ^ "Fellow details". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  12. ^ Human Evolution: a guide to the debates, Brian Regal, page 72 also see The Institutions of physiology, 1817, Blumenbach, John Elliotson
  13. ^ Marvin Harris (2001). The rise of anthropological theory: a history of theories of culture. Rowman Altamira. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-0-7591-0133-3. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  14. ^ Jack Hitt, "Mighty White of You: Racial Preferences Color America's Oldest Skulls and Bones," Harper's, July 2005, pp. 39–55
  15. ^ [1] Anthropological Treatises of Blumenbach and Hunter, pg. 312
  16. ^ Über die natürlichen Verschiedenheiten im Menschengeschlechte, 1798, pp. 204–224
  17. ^ Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze Race and the enlightenment: a reader, Blackwell (1997) p. 79 ISBN 0-631-20136-X
  18. ^ Fredrickson, George M. Racism: A Short History, p. 57, Princeton University Press (2002), ISBN 0-691-00899-X
  19. ^ Carter J & Muir P.H. 1983. Printing and the Mind of Man. 2nd ed, Karl Pressler, Munchen, p132/3.
  20. ^ Blumenbach, J. F. 1776. De generis hvmani varietate nativa liber. Cvm figvris aeri incisis. – pp. [1], 1–100, [1], Tab. I–II [= 1–2]. Goettingae. (Vandenhoeck).
  21. ^ ICZN 1987. Archived 2010-06-25 at the Wayback Machine Official lists and indexes of names and works in zoology. p. 303. London. (The International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature).
  22. ^ ICZN Code Art. 8.1.1.
  23. ^ Ann Moyal Platypus, pp. 8–9
  24. ^ Watson, p. 82.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g Gigantes, Denise (2000). Life: Organic Form and Romanticism (PDF). Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300136852. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
  26. ^ Wolff's vital power, which dealt only with nutrition (sustenance), was "requisite to the Bildugnstrieb but not by any means the Bildungstrieb itself," as the vital power existed even where there was little or no form, and also could be weak due to poor nourishment, whereas the Bildungstrieb remains undamaged. (Gigantes)
  27. ^ Almeida, Hermion (1991). Romantic Medicine and John Keats. Oxford University Press.
  28. ^ See also Watson, p. 83, and Lenoir, Timothy. The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in Nineteenth-Century German Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. p. 44.
  29. ^ a b Richards, Robert J. (2000). "Kant and Blumenbach on the Bildungstrieb: A Historical Misunderstanding". Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. & Biomed. Sci. 31 (1): 11–32. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  30. ^ Lenoir, pp. 17–18.
  31. ^ Watson, p. 81.


External links

African bush elephant

The African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), also known as the African savanna elephant, is the largest living terrestrial animal with bulls reaching a shoulder height of up to 3.96 m (13.0 ft). Both sexes have tusks, which erupt when they are 1–3 years old and grow throughout life.

It is distributed across 37 African countries and inhabits forests, grasslands and woodlands, wetlands and agricultural land. It is a social mammal, traveling in herds composed of cows and their offspring. Adult bulls usually live alone or in small bachelor groups. It is a herbivore, feeding on grasses, creepers, herbs, leaves and bark.

The description of the species was published in 1797. Since 2004, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It is threatened foremost by habitat destruction, and in parts of its range also by poaching for meat and ivory.

Batavus genuinus

Batavus genuinus (Latin for "native" or "authentic Batavian") was the name given in 1828 by the Göttinger professor Johann Friedrich Blumenbach to a human skull from the island of Marken in the Netherlands. Dating from a modern age, the skull's most remarkable single characteristic was its strongly sloping forehead, which Blumenbach thought was an ancient feature that had been preserved by the inhabitants of Marken and other small Zuiderzee islands due to their geographic isolation, which had prevented admixture from other tribes.

In 1877 anthropologist Rudolf Virchow speculated that the low-skulledness exhibited by Frisians in general, but especially by the people of Marken, linked them directly to the ancient prototype of Germanic man. For the same reason, the skulls were classified as Neanderthaloid by craniometrists despite their recent age.

In 1912 Dutch physician Johannes Antonius James Barge demonstrated that the peculiar form of the "Batavus genuinus" skulls, far from being an inherited feature, had been caused by the tight caps that both the male and female children of Marken were made to wear around their heads until the age of seven.

Caucasian race

The Caucasian race (also Caucasoid or Europid) is a grouping of human beings historically regarded as a biological taxon, which, depending on which of the historical race classifications is used, has usually included some or all of the ancient and modern populations of Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.First introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, the term denoted one of three purported major races of humankind (Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid). In biological anthropology, Caucasoid has been used as an umbrella term for phenotypically similar groups from these different regions, with a focus on skeletal anatomy, and especially cranial morphology, over skin tone. Ancient and modern "Caucasoid" populations were thus held to have ranged in complexion from white to dark brown. Since the second half of the 20th century, physical anthropologists have moved away from a typological understanding of human biological diversity towards a genomic and population-based perspective, and have tended to understand race as a social classification of humans based on phenotype and ancestry as well as cultural factors, as the concept is also understood in the social sciences. Although Caucasian / Caucasoid and their counterparts Negroid and Mongoloid have been used less frequently as a biological classification in forensic anthropology (where it is sometimes used as a way to identify the ancestry of human remains based on interpretations of osteological measurements), the terms remain in use by some anthropologists.In the United States, the root term Caucasian has also often been used in a different, societal context as a synonym for white or of European, Middle Eastern, or North African ancestry. Its usage in American English has been criticized.

Cemophora coccinea

Cemophora coccinea, commonly known as the scarlet snake, is a species of nonvenomous snake in the family Colubridae. The species is native to the southeastern United States. There are two subspecies of C. coccinea that are recognized as being valid. The Texas scarlet snake (C. lineri ) was previously considered a subspecies.

Central chimpanzee

The central chimpanzee or tschego (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) is a subspecies of the common chimpanzee (one of the closest living relatives to humans, along with the bonobo). It occurs mainly in Gabon, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo, but also, to a lesser extent, in other regions.

Ernst Gottfried Baldinger

Ernst Gottfried Baldinger (13 May 1738 – 21 January 1804), German physician, was born in Großvargula near Erfurt.

He studied medicine at Erfurt, Halle and Jena, earning his MD in 1760 under the guidance of Ernst Anton Nicolai and in 1761 was entrusted with the superintendence of the military hospitals connected with the Prussian encampment near Torgau.

He published a treatise in 1765, De Militum Morbis, which met with a favourable reception. In 1768, he became professor of medicine at Jena, which he left in 1773 for Göttingen, and in 1785 he moved to Marburg, where he died of apoplexy on 21 January 1804.

Among his pupils were Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring, Albrecht Thaer, and Johann Christian Wiegleb. He wrote approximately 84 separate treatises, in addition to numerous papers scattered through various collections and journals. He corresponded with Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus and was the author of some plant names.

Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer

Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer (10 October 1749 – 14 December 1830) was a German physician from Gotha, Thuringia.Sulzer had a large collection of minerals and published also new results from new species. In 1791, Sulzer published together with Johann Friedrich Blumenbach their results on a new mineral he had acquired. He named the mineral strontianite (strontium carbonate) and made clear that it was distinct from the witherite (barium carbonate) and stated that it contained a new element.He was head of a veterinary school and a midwifery school and chief physician for the local spa in Ronneburg, Thuringia. Additionally, he was the physician for Dorothea von Medem and her sister Elisa von der Recke. He was part of the Musenhof der Herzogin von Kurland.

In 1774, Sulzer, a companion of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, devoted a whole academic monography in the domain of social sciences and natural history to hamsters, entitled "An approach to a natural history of the hamster" ("Versuch einer Naturgeschichte des Hamsters"). In several instances, he used the hamster to document the equal rights of all beings, including Homo sapiens.

Heinrich Boie

Heinrich Boie (May 4, 1794, Meldorf, Holstein – September 4, 1827, Bogor, West Java, Indonesia) was a German zoologist. He was the brother of Friedrich Boie. In the field of herpetology they described 49 new species of reptiles and several new species of amphibians.Heinrich Boie studied law at Kiel and Göttingen. At university he became interested in natural history through the lectures of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and Friedrich Tiedemann. He was appointed Coenraad Jacob Temminck's assistant at Leiden. In 1825 he travelled to Java with Salomon Müller in order to collect specimens for the museum. He died there of gall fever.

A species of Indian gecko, Cnemaspis boiei, is named in honor of Heinrich Boie or his brother Friedrich Boie.

Heinrich Röntgen

Heinrich Röntgen (1787–1813), was one of four students recommended as explorers to Joseph Banks' African Association by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, the others being Friedrich Hornemann, Ulrich Seetzen, and Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. All died in Africa.Following the disappearance of British diplomat Benjamin Bathurst near Berlin in 1809, Röntgen accompanied Bathurst's wife Phillida when she travelled to Germany to search for her husband.

Irish elk

The Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus) also called the giant deer or Irish giant deer, is an extinct species of deer in the genus Megaloceros and is one of the largest deer that ever lived. Its range extended across Eurasia during the Pleistocene, from Ireland to Siberia to China. A related form is recorded in China during the Late Pleistocene. The most recent remains of the species have been carbon dated to about 7,700 years ago in Siberia.Although most skeletons have been found in bogs in Ireland, the animal was not exclusive to Ireland and was not closely related to either of the living species currently called elk: Alces alces (the European elk, known in North America as the moose) or Cervus canadensis (the North American elk or wapiti). For this reason, the name "giant deer" is used in some publications, instead of "Irish elk". A study has suggested that the Irish elk was closely related to the Red deer (Cervus elaphus). However, other phylogenetic analyses support a sister-group relationship with fallow deer (Dama dama).

Johann Ernst Fabri

Johann Ernst Fabri (16 July 1755, Oels, Silesia – 30 May 1825, Erlangen) was a German geographer and statistician.

In 1776, he began his studies of theology at the University of Halle, but his focus soon turned to geography and history. Later, he served as privat-docent at the University of Göttingen, where he was influenced by distinguished scholars that included Johann Christoph Gatterer, August Ludwig von Schlözer and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.

In 1786, he moved to Jena as an associate professor of geography and statistics and, in 1794, became a professor at the University of Erlangen. For much of his career, Fabri received no pay for his lectures; only in 1815 did he begin to receive a fixed salary.

Johann Friedrich Osiander

Johann Friedrich Osiander (2 February 1787 in Kirchheim unter Teck – 10 February 1855) was an obstetrician at Göttingen, who published a prize essay in 1808 on nerves of the uterus titled Commentatio anatomico-physiologica, qua edisseretur uterum nervos habere, noting that he believed that nerves were present in the uterus but could not detect them. He was the son of Friedrich Benjamin Osiander (1759–1822).

In 1808 he received his medical doctorate, and embarked on an educational journey that took him to the University of Tübingen and the University of Paris, where he studied with Jean-Louis Baudelocque (1745–1810). In 1810 he returned to Göttingen, where in worked in the field of urology and was appointed assessor of the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (Göttingen Academy of Sciences).

Under the influence of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840), he developed an interest in natural history and comparative anatomy, and subsequently served as an assistant at the Natural History Cabinet. In 1811 he became a privat-docent at Göttingen, also working as a general practitioner and obstetrician, and in 1815 was appointed an associate professor of medicine. In 1817 he traveled to Vienna, where he met with Johann Lukas Boër (1751–1835); afterwards visiting Berlin, Jena and Halle (Saale).

In 1822 he became his father's representative in Göttingen as director of the maternity hospital. However, following the death of his father, the government preferred Ludwig Julius Caspar Mende (1779–1832) as director of the Göttingen maternity hospital. Therefore, the younger Osiander became a professor of medicine, later taking over the zoological and ethnographic department of the academic museum.

Karl Cäsar von Leonhard

Karl Cäsar von Leonhard (12 September 1779 in Rumpenheim – 23 January 1862 in Heidelberg) was a German mineralogist and geologist. His son, Gustav von Leonhard, was also a mineralogist.

From 1797 he studied at the universities of Marburg and Göttingen, where Johann Friedrich Blumenbach was an important influence to his career. He collected many mineralogical specimens on scientific excursions in Saxony and Thuringia, continued by travel to the Austrian Alps (including the Salzkammergut). During his journeys he made the acquaintance of Friedrich Mohs and Karl von Moll. In 1818, through assistance from Baden minister of state Sigismund von Reitzenstein, he was appointed professor of mineralogy at the University of Heidelberg.In 1807 he founded the popular mineralogical journal "Taschenbuch für die gesammte Mineralogie" — after 1830 the publication was known as "Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie and Paläontologie" (edited with Heinrich Georg Bronn).He was a founding member of the Wetterauischen Gesellschaft (Wetterau Society). During his career, he maintained correspondence on mineralogical subjects with Leopold von Buch, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Abraham Gottlob Werner and Johann Karl Wilhelm Voigt.In 1824 he introduced the term "loess" into the geological science. The term "leonhardite" bears his name, being defined as a partially dehydrated, opaque laumontite.

Malay race

The concept of a Malay race was originally proposed by the German physician Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840), and classified as a brown race. Malay is a loose term used in the late 19th century and early 20th century to describe the Austronesian peoples or to categorize Austronesian speakers into a race.

Since Blumenbach, many anthropologists have rejected his theory of five races, citing the enormous complexity of classifying races. The concept of a "Malay race" differs with that of the ethnic Malays centered on Malaya and parts of the Malay Archipelago's islands of Sumatra and Borneo.


Marmots are large squirrels in the genus Marmota, with 15 species.


Mastodons (Greek: μαστός "breast" and ὀδούς, "tooth") are any species of extinct proboscideans in the genus Mammut (family Mammutidae), distantly related to elephants, that inhabited North and Central America during the late Miocene or late Pliocene up to their extinction at the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Mastodons lived in herds and were predominantly forest-dwelling animals that fed on a mixed diet obtained by browsing and grazing with a seasonal preference for browsing, similar to living elephants.

M. americanum, the American mastodon, and M. pacificus, the Pacific mastodon, are the youngest and best-known species of the genus. Mastodons disappeared from North America as part of a mass extinction of most of the Pleistocene megafauna, widely believed to have been caused by overexploitation by Clovis hunters.

Mongolian idiocy

The term Mongolian idiocy and similar terms have been used to refer to a specific type of mental deficiency associated with the genetic disorder now more commonly referred to as Down syndrome. The use of these terms has largely been abandoned because of their offensive and misleading implications about those with the disorder.

English physician John Langdon Down first characterized the syndrome that now bears his name as a separate form of mental disability in 1862, and in a more widely published report in 1866. Due to his perception that children with Down syndrome shared facial similarities with the populations that Johann Friedrich Blumenbach described as the "Mongolian race", Down used the term mongoloid. Mongolism and its Pathology was the title used by W. Bertram Hill for a published study in 1908 and the term mongolism was used by psychiatrist and geneticist Lionel Penrose as late as 1961.

The connotations of the term were popularized by British physician F. G. Crookshank in his pseudo-scientific book The Mongol in our Midst first published in 1924.

In 1961, a prestigious group of genetic experts wrote a joint letter to the medical journal The Lancet which read:

It has long been recognised that the terms Mongolian Idiocy, Mongolism, Mongoloid, etc. as applied to a specific type of mental deficiency have misleading connotations. The importance of this anomaly among Europeans and their descendants is not related to the segregation of genes derived from Asians; its appearance among members of Asian populations suggests such ambiguous designations as 'Mongol Mongoloid'; increasing participation of Chinese and Japanese in investigation of the condition imposes on them the use of an embarrassing term. We urge, therefore, that the expressions which imply a racial aspect of the condition be no longer used. Some of the undersigned are inclined to replace the term Mongolism by such designations as 'Langdon Down Anomaly', or 'Down's Syndrome or Anomaly', or 'Congenital Acromicria'. Several of us believe that this is an appropriate time to introduce the term 'Trisomy 21 Anomaly', which would include cases of simple Trisomy as well as translocations. It is hoped that agreement on a specific phrase will soon crystallise once the term 'Mongolism' has been abandoned.

The World Health Organization (WHO) resolved to abandon the term in 1965 at the request of the Mongolian People's Republic. Despite several decades of inaction and resistance, the term thereafter began to fade from use, in favor of the term such as Down's Syndrome, Down syndrome and Trisomy 21 disorder. Steven J. Gould reported in 1980 that the term "mongolism" still remained in common use in the United States, despite its being "defamatory" and "wrong on all counts". In the 21st century, all the older terms are considered unacceptable in the English-speaking world, are no longer in common use, and have been largely forgotten.

The Goodness Paradox

The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution is a book by British primatologist Richard Wrangham.Wrangham argues that humans have domesticated themselves by a process of self-selection similar to the selective breeding of foxes described by Dmitry Belyayev, a theory first proposed by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in the early 1800s. Darwin disagreed, as have most evolutionary biologists since.According to Paleoanthropologist John D. Hawks, Wrangham follows scholars including Kenneth A. Dodge in dividing human aggression into two types. The first type, "reactive aggression" is when individuals attack in response to provocation. The second type, "proactive aggression" is planned, premeditated, and involves deliberate tactical strikes. To explain his idea, Wrangham invited readers to imagine a commercial airline flight. Other primates crowded into such a space would react by, in Hawks' words, "ripping one another limb from limb." Humans do not because they have a comparatively very low tendency to reactive aggression. Proactive aggression, by contrast, is so highly developed in humans that we must put elaborate security measures in place to prevent others from carrying out plans to bring the plane down.Wrangham offers a new perspective on a topic that has been investigated notably by Konrad Lorenz and Erich Fromm, whose research is briefly acknowledged.

Woolly rhinoceros

The woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) is an extinct species of rhinoceros that was common throughout Europe and northern Asia during the Pleistocene epoch and survived until the end of the last glacial period. The genus name Coelodonta means "cavity tooth". The woolly rhinoceros was a member of the Pleistocene megafauna.

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Color terminology
Sub-types (anthropological)
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