Ernst Haeckel

“Ernst Haeckel was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and the kingdom Protista. Haeckel promoted and popularized Charles Darwin’s work in Germany and developed the controversial recapitulation theory (“ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”) claiming that an individual organism’s biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarizes its species’ evolutionary development, or phylogeny.” – wiki

On top of all his sciency awesomness Haeckel also published over 100 fantastically detailed, beautifully intricate scientific illustrations of sea creatures and animals, some of which you can see here. Its great to know that just because you pursue a career in science you do not have to let go of artistic dreams and skills, but can if fact continue to utilize them!

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2 thoughts on “Ernst Haeckel

  1. These pictures are famous and beautiful. However, I have some reservation against Haeckel. He spread Darwinism, but he also spread racism. Racist theories where common and almost normal in 19th and early 20th century science up into the 1970s, but I think Haeckel is one of those responsible for that.
    For example, in his “Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte” (Berlin 1898) he does not only distinguish 36 races of humans but he groups these into 12 species and 4 genera. There is a clear valuation of these. At the end of the book there is a map showing a hypothetical (totally speculativ) theory about how, according to Haeckel, the races spread on earth. The map shows a “erst herrschende Menschenart” (first ruling type of humans – that is the “Mediteranian” races, with the “Indogermanische Rasse” on top, and a “zweite herrschende Menschenart” (second ruling type of humans – that is the “Mongolen”). The whole chapter 28 of the book (pages 729 – 765) is pure racism and totally unscientific.

  2. By the way, these pictures are thought to have had an influence on the development of the Art Nouveau style. I have seen one exhibition with Art Nouveau art and some Haeckel prints and there where indeed some striking similarities. Interesting stuff in any case.

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