Franz Weidenreich

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Franz Weidenreich
Born 7 June 1873
Edenkoben, Germany
Died July 11, 1948(1948-07-11) (aged 75)
New York, United States
Nationality German
Alma mater University of Strasbourg
Awards Viking Fund Medal (1946)
Scientific career
Fields anatomist
physical anthropologist
Institutions University of Heidelberg

Franz Weidenreich (7 June 1873, Edenkoben 11 July 1948, New York City) was a Jewish German anatomist and physical anthropologist who studied evolution.

Edenkoben Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Edenkoben is a municipality in the Südliche Weinstraße district, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It lies approximately halfway between Landau and Neustadt an der Weinstraße. Edenkoben is one of the towns situated along the German Wine Route. Edenkoben is the seat of the Verbandsgemeinde Edenkoben.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and in the U.S. state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.


Life and career

Weidenreich studied at the University of Strasbourg where he earned a medical degree in 1899. From 1921 to 1924 he served as a Professor of anthropology at the University of Heidelberg and was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago in 1934. In 1935 he succeeded Canadian paleoanthropologist Davidson Black as honorary director of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory of the Geological Survey of China. Weidenreich was among the scientists to claim that Piltdown Man was a "chimera", a composite between two unrelated species, long before fluoride analyses proved that Piltdown Man was a hoax. [1] [2] Weidenreich also renamed Gigantopithecus blacki to Giganthropus blacki, based on a theory that primitive forms of man were much larger than the more recent ones. However, as this theory is contradictory to the Cope-Depéret rule (which states that in straight evolution lines of non-flying animals the size of species increases, not the other way round), it was rejected by Professor Dr. von Koenigswald when he returned from the Japanese concentration camp after the Second World War.

University of Strasbourg university in France (from 2009)

The University of Strasbourg in Strasbourg, Alsace, France, is a university in France with nearly 51,000 students and over 3,200 researchers.

University of Chicago Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, the school is located on a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, near Lake Michigan. The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.

As honorary director of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory he also studied fossils of the Peking Man, then known as Sinanthropus pekinensis, unearthed at Zhoukoudian, China. Weidenreich originated the "Weidenreich Theory of Human Evolution" based on his examination of Peking Man. Being an anatomist, Weidenreich observed numerous anatomical characteristics that Peking Man had in common with modern Chinese, this led to his Polycentric evolution model of human origins. [3]

The Cenozoic Research Laboratory of the Geological Survey of China was established within the Peking Union Medical College in 1928 by Canadian paleoanthropologist Davidson Black and Chinese geologists Ding Wenjing and Weng Wenhao for the research and appraisal of Peking Man fossils unearthed at Zhoukoudian.

Peking Man subspecies of the genus Homo (fossil)

Peking Man, Homo erectus pekinensis, is an example of Homo erectus. Discovered in 1923–27 during excavations at Zhoukoudian near Beijing, China, in 2009 this group of fossil specimens dated from roughly 750,000 years ago, and a new 26Al/10Be dating suggests they are in the range of 680,000–780,000 years old.

Zhoukoudian Cave complex and archaeological site in China

Zhoukoudian or Choukoutien (周口店) is a cave system in suburban Fangshan District, Beijing. It has yielded many archaeological discoveries, including one of the first specimens of Homo erectus, dubbed Peking Man, and a fine assemblage of bones of the gigantic hyena Pachycrocuta brevirostris.

Peter H. Wyden, American journalist and writer, was one of his nephews and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden a grandnephew.

Peter H. Wyden was an American journalist and writer.

Ron Wyden United States Senator from Oregon

Ronald Lee Wyden is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator for Oregon since 1996. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served in the United States House of Representatives from 1981 until 1996. He is the current dean of Oregon's congressional delegation.

Polycentric Evolution

Weidenreich pioneered the Polycentric (multiregional) hypothesis, which proposed that human populations have evolved independently in the Old World from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens sapiens, while at the same time there was gene flow between the various populations. [4]

Old World Collectively Africa, Europe, and Asia

The term "Old World" is used commonly in the West to refer to Africa, Asia and Europe, regarded collectively as the part of the world known to its population before contact with the Americas and Oceania. It is used in the context of, and contrasts with, the New World.

<i>Homo erectus</i> Extinct species of the genus Homo

Homo erectus is a species of archaic humans that lived throughout most of the Pleistocene geological epoch. Its earliest fossil evidence dates to 1.8 million years ago. However, a 2017 analyses points to these specific fossils being more archaic, being related to H. naledi, which was considered one of the first homo species.

<i>Homo sapiens</i> Humans as a biological species

In taxonomy, Homo sapiens is the only extant human species. The name is Latin for "wise man" and was introduced in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus.

A vocal proponent of the Weidenreich Theory was Carleton Coon, however Coon modified Weidenreich's Polycentric view of evolution, since he stressed far less on gene flow. [5]

Carleton S. Coon American anthropologist

Carleton Stevens Coon was an American physical anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard University, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Coon's theories on race are widely rejected by modern anthropologists for unsubstantiated claims of European superiority to all other races.

Related Research Articles

In North American folklore, Bigfoot or Sasquatch are said to be hairy, upright-walking, ape-like creatures that dwell in the wilderness and leave footprints. Depictions often portray them as a missing link between humans and human ancestors or other great apes. They are strongly associated with the Pacific Northwest, and individuals claim to see the creatures across North America. Over the years, these creatures have inspired numerous commercial ventures and hoaxes. The plural nouns 'Bigfoots' and 'Bigfeet' are both acceptable.

Milford Howell Wolpoff is a paleoanthropologist working as a professor of anthropology and adjunct associate research scientist, Museum of Anthropology, at the University of Michigan. He was born in 1942 to Ruth (Silver) and Ben Wolpoff, in Chicago. He is the leading proponent of the multiregional evolution hypothesis that attempts to explain the evolution of Homo sapiens as a consequence of evolutionary processes within a single species. He is the author of Paleoanthropology and the co-author of Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction, which reviews the scientific evidence and conflicting theories about how human evolution has been interpreted, and how its interpretation is related to views about race.

Piltdown Man paleoanthropological hoax

The Piltdown Man was a paleoanthropological hoax in which bone fragments were presented as the fossilised remains of a previously unknown early human. In 2016, the results of an extensive scientific review established that amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson had very likely perpetrated the hoax.

Davidson Black Canadian anthropologist

Davidson Black, FRS was a Canadian paleoanthropologist, best known for his naming of Sinanthropus pekinensis. He was Chairman of the Geological Survey of China and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was known as 步達生 in China.

Meganthropus is a name commonly given to several large jaw and skull fragments found at the Sangiran site near Surakarta in Central Java, Indonesia. The original scientific name was Meganthropus palaeojavanicus, and while it is commonly considered invalid today, the genus name has survived as something of an informal nickname for the fossils.

Paleoanthropology or paleo-anthropology is a branch of archaeology with a human focus, which seeks to understand the early development of anatomically modern humans, a process known as hominization, through the reconstruction of evolutionary kinship lines within the family Hominidae, working from biological evidence and cultural evidence.

<i>Gigantopithecus</i> genus of mammals

Gigantopithecus is an extinct genus of ape that existed from perhaps nine million years to as recently as one hundred thousand years ago, at the same period as Homo erectus would have been dispersed, in what is now India, Vietnam, China and Indonesia placing Gigantopithecus in the same time frame and geographical location as several hominin species. The primate fossil record suggests that the species Gigantopithecus blacki were the largest known primates that ever lived, standing up to 3 m (9.8 ft) and weighing as much as 540–600 kg (1,190–1,320 lb), although some argue that it is more likely that they were much smaller, at roughly 1.8–2 m (5.9–6.6 ft) in height and 180–300 kg (400–660 lb) in weight.

Aris Poulianos Greek anthropoloigst and archaeologist

Aris Poulianos is a Greek anthropologist and archaeologist.

Human taxonomy

Human taxonomy is the classification of the human species within zoological taxonomy. The systematic genus, Homo, is designed to include both anatomically modern humans and extinct varieties of archaic humans. Current humans have been designated as subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, differentiated from the direct ancestor, Homo sapiens idaltu.

Archaic humans extinct relatives of modern humans (Homo) from the past half million years (such as Neanderthals)

A number of varieties of Homo are grouped into the broad category of archaic humans in the period contemporary to and predating the emergence of the earliest anatomically modern humans over 315 ka. The term typically includes Homo neanderthalensis (430+–25 ka), Denisovans, Homo rhodesiensis (300–125 ka), Homo heidelbergensis (600–200 ka), and Homo antecessor.

The name Dali man refers to the remains of a late Homo erectus, or archaic Homo sapiens, who lived in the late-mid Pleistocene epoch. The remains comprise a complete fossilized skull, which was discovered by Liu Shuntang in 1978 in Dali County, Shaanxi Province, China.

Jia Lanpo, was a Chinese prehistorian and archaeologist. Professor Jia was one of the founders of Chinese anthropology.

Multiregional origin of modern humans

The multiregional hypothesis, multiregional evolution (MRE), or polycentric hypothesis is a scientific model that provides an alternative explanation to the more widely accepted "Out of Africa" model of monogenesis for the pattern of human evolution.

Alan Gordon Thorne was an Australian born academic who was extensively involved with various anthropological events and is considered an authority on interpretations of Aboriginal Australian origins and the human genome. Thorne first became interested in matters pertaining to archaeology and human evolution as a lecturer in human anatomy at the University of Sydney and eventually joined the Australian National University (ANU) as a professor, where he taught biology and human anatomy. Over time, through many excavations such as Lake Mungo and Kow Swamp, Thorne posited significant arguments that have contradicted traditionally accepted theories explaining the early dispersion of human beings.

The Out of Asia theory was a scientific theory which contended that modern humans first arose in Asia. Most anthropologists until the mid 20th century preferred Asia, over Africa, as the continent where the first hominids evolved. The recent African origin of modern humans theory is currently supported by more data.


  1. Comments on the Piltdown Affair, E. A. Hooton, American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 56, No. 2, Part 1 (Apr., 1954), pp. 287-289.
  2. The Great Piltdown Hoax, William L. Straus, Science, New Series, Vol. 119, No. 3087 (Feb. 26, 1954), pp. 265-269.
  3. Edwards, Sophie. "Analysis of Two Competing Theories on the Origin of Homo sapiens sapiens: Multiregional Theory vs. the Out of Africa 2 Model". Anthrojournal. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  4. The Origin of Races: Weidenreich's Opinion S. L. Washburn, American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 66, No. 5 (Oct., 1964), pp. 1165-1167.
  5. Multiregional Evolution, R. B. Eckhardt, M. H. Wolpoff, A. G. Thorne, Science, New Series, Vol. 262, No. 5136 (Nov. 12, 1993), pp. 973-974.

Further reading