The New International Encyclopædia/Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich

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BLUMENBACH, blōō'men-bȧG, Johann Friedrich (1752-1840). A German naturalist, physiologist, and anthropologist, born in Gotha. He studied in Jena and in Göttingen, where he graduated with the degree of M.D. in 1776. He began to teach in Göttingen in 1776, became a professor in 1778, and exercised the greatest influence as a teacher for more than fifty years. He founded the science of anthropology. His Collectio Craniorum Diversarum Gentium (1790-1828) gave the results of observations upon the skulls of different races. He advocated the theory of the unity of the human race, and divided it into five types — Caucasian, Mongolian, Malay, American, and Ethiopian. His Handbuch der Naturgeschichte (1780) has gone through many editions. He was the first to place comparative anatomy on a thoroughly scientific basis, and in 1805 published his Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie. He speculated on the power of generation and regeneration, and imagined that a nisus formativus, or formative tendency, was possessed by all living things. Consult his Ueber den Bildungstrieb und das Zeugungsgeschäft (Göttingen, 1791).