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Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1753–1840)


JOHANN FRIEDRICH BLUMENBACH, a pioneer in anthropology and craniology, was born on May 11, 1752, at Gotha. He studied medicine at Jena under Soemmering and qualified in 1776 at Göttingen, where he was appointed extraordinary professor of the practice of medicine in the following year and full professor in 1778, In his thesis entitled "De generis humani varietate nativa" (1776), which according to Garrison is the starting point of modern ethnology, he based his classification of mankind upon the shape of the skull and the facial configuration as well as on the colour of the skin. As the result of his craniological investigations, he divided the human race into five great families: the Caucasian or white race, the Mongolian or yellow, the Malayan or brown, the Negro or black, and the American or red.

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Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1753–1840). Nature 145, 63 (1940).

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