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Franz Weidenreich

WEIDENREICH, FRANZ (1873–1948), German anatomist, physical anthropologist, and paleontologist. Born in the Palatinate, Weidenreich taught anatomy at Strasbourg from 1899 to 1918 and at Heidelberg from 1921 to 1924. In 1928 he was appointed professor of anthropology at Frankfurt University. In 1935, during the Nazi regime, he left Germany and took a position at Union Medical College in Peking (Beijing), China. He settled in the United States in 1940, and from 1941 until his death was affiliated with the Museum of Natural History in New York City. A leading scholar of human evolution and morphology, Weidenreich became internationally known for his studies of Homo Sinanthropus, the human fossil remains discovered in China in 1927 of which he gave the first description in 1943. He also investigated the later Homo Sapiens group found at Chou Kou Tien in north China, Neanderthal skeletons from Europe and Central Asia and, together with the Dutch paleontologist Gustav Koenigswald, the remains of Pithecanthropus, Maganthropus and Paleojavinicus from Java.

Among the problems dealt with by Weidenreich in his articles were the relation of erect posture to the evolution of the foot, hand, pelvis, and skull, and the influence of the expansion of the brain on human development. His shorter anthropological papers written from 1939 to his death were published in 1949 (Eng.; ed. by S.L. Washburn and D. Wolffson).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.