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Carsten Niemitz
German scientist

Carsten Niemitz

Carsten Niemitz
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German scientist
Is Scientist Biologist Anthropologist Educator
From Germany
Field Academia Science Social science
Gender male
Birth 29 September 1945, Dessau, Dessau-Roßlau, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Age 76 years
Star sign Libra
The details (from wikipedia)


Carsten Niemitz (born 29 September 1945 in Dessau) is a German anatomist, ethologist, and human evolutionary biologist.

Life and work

Niemitz studied biology, mathematics, medicine and art history at the Universities of Giessen, Freiburg, Göttingen and at the Free University of Berlin. He graduated in Biology in 1970. From 1968 to 1971 he was employed at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt. He spent the years 1971 to 1973 in the jungle of Sarawak on Borneo. After returning to Germany he was awarded his doctorate in biology in 1974. In 1975 he qualified to teach anatomy and until 1978 was lecturer at the Anatomical Institute of the University of Göttingen. At the age of 32 he was appointed Professor of Human Biology at the Free University of Berlin, a post he held as head of the Institute until 2010. In 1987 he was consultant to the IUCN as a member of the Species Survival Commission. In 1993 he was appointed as professor of zoology at the University of Essen and was a visiting professor of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Potsdam. During a research trip in 1991 to Sulawesi, he discovered the primate Tarsius dianae. In 1996 he introduced in the Anthropological Society a proposal to ban the use of the term "race", which was later adopted officially by the society.

In addition to his field research on primates and the study of biomechanics, one of his research interests was the origin of language and writing, with investigation into communication amongst anthropoid apes. He was one of those who regarded facial expressions and gestures as a precursor of human writing skills. In brief, his thesis was that the abilities to read and write are biologically older than those of language, because such visual communication was later supplemented by vocal and acoustic signals.

In the late eighties and the nineties he was one of those who raised the alarm about the depletion of tropical rain forests. From 2000 Niemitz developed an "amphibious" theory of the evolution of upright human posture and walking erect, according to which "there was a period in our evolution when it was wading and shore use which in a sustained and substantial way helped to shape today's people". Niemitz rejects the more extensive aquatic ape hypothesis, which accepts a real aquatic (water living) phase in human evolution. His publication list includes over 350 titles and many books. He also became active as a translator and as a writer of textbooks and for radio, film and television.


Niemitz was president of the Anthropological Society and later of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (BGAEU). He is Deputy Chairman of Urania in Berlin, a centre for the discussion of scientific results with the general public.


  • Zur Biometrie der Gattung Tarsius Storr, 1780 (Tarsiiformes, Tarsiidae). Eine funktionsmorphologische Studie als Beitrag zur Systematik und Phylogenie der Koboldmakis unter Verwendung elektronischer Rechenmittel mit dem Versuch einer Synopse morphologischer und ethologischer Ergebnisse. Dissertation, Gießen 1974
  • Zur Funktionsmorphologie und Biometrie der Gattung Tarsius Storr, 1780 (Mammalia, Primates, Tarsiidae). Herleitung von Evolutionsmechanismen bei einem Primaten. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 25, 1977
  • Erbe und Umwelt. Zur Natur von Anlage und Selbstbestimmung des Menschen. Verlag Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1987, ISBN 3-518-28246-8, 2. Auflage, 1989
  • Das Regenwaldbuch. Verlag Parey, Berlin und Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-489-53434-4
  • mit Sigrun Niemitz: Genforschung und Gentechnik. Ängste und Hoffnungen. Springer Verlag, Berlin 1999
  • Das Geheimnis des aufrechten Gangs. Unsere Evolution verlief anders. C.H. Beck, München 2004, ISBN 978-3-406-51606-1
  • Brennpunkte und Perspektiven der aktuellen Anthropologie = Focuses and perspectives of modern physical anthropology. Verlag Leidorf, 2006, ISBN 978-3-86757-141-8, ISBN 3-86757-141-4
  • mit K. Kreutz und H. Walther: Wider den Rassenbegriff in der Anwendung auf den Menschen. Anthropologischer Anzeiger 64, Nr. 4 (2006): 463-464


  • Das Geheimnis des aufrechten Gangs. Dokumentarfilm, Deutschland, 2011, 43 Min., Regie: Ingo Knopf, Jo Siegler, Produktion: Maakii Filmproduktion, WDR, arte (Inhaltsangabe von arte)
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