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Friedrich Tiedemann

Friedrich Tiedemann

German zoologist
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German zoologist
A.K.A. Friedrich von Tiedemann
Countries Germany Holy Roman Empire Confederation of the Rhine German Confederation
Occupations Anatomist Physiologist Mammalogist University teacher Zoologist
Gender male
Birth 23 August 1781 (Kassel)
Death 22 January 1861 (Munich)
Star sign Virgo
Children: Gustav Nikolaus Tiedemann
Education University of Marburg
The details

Friedrich Tiedemann FRS (23 August 1781 – 22 January 1861) was a German anatomist and physiologist.

Tiedemann spent most of his life as professor of anatomy and physiology at Heidelberg, a position to which he was appointed in 1816, after having filled the chair of anatomy and zoology for ten years at Landshut, and died at Munich. He was elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1827. In 1836, he was elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Early life and education

Tiedemann was born at Cassel, the eldest son of Dietrich Tiedemann (1748–1803), a philosopher and psychologist of considerable repute. He graduated in medicine at Marburg in 1804, but soon abandoned practice.


Tiedemann devoted himself to the study of natural science, and, upon moving to Paris, France, became an ardent follower of Georges Cuvier. On his return to Germany he maintained the claims of patient and sober anatomical research against the prevalent speculations of the school of Lorenz Oken, whose foremost antagonist he was long reckoned. His remarkable studies of the development of the human brain, as correlated with his father's studies on the development of intelligence, deserve mention.

Tiedemann was one of the first persons to make a scientific contestation of racism. In his article entitled "On the Brain of the Negro, compared with that of the European and the Orang-outang" (1836), he argued based on craniometric and brain measures taken by him from Europeans and black men from different parts of the world that the then-common European belief that Negroes have smaller brains and are thus intellectually inferior is scientifically unfounded and based merely on the prejudice of travellers and explorers.

In 1827 he became correspondent of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands, when that became the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1851 he joined as foreign member. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1849.

Tiedemann was influenced by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and accepted the transmutation of species. Science historian Robert J. Richards has written that Tiedemann "joined the basic notion of species evolution, of a Lamarckian flavor, with the proposition that higher animals in their embryological development recapitulated the morphological stages of those lower in the scale."

By the 1860s, the tobacco historian Friedrich Tiedemann had reported several cancers of the tongue brought on by smoking.

Personal life

Two of Tiedemann's sons, Gustav and Heinrich, were casualties of the 1848 uprisings.


In 2007, Brazilian geneticist Sergio Pena called Tiedemann an "anti-racist ahead of his time".

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