Open main menu

Oskar Kuhn (7 March 1908, Munich[1] – 1990) was a German palaeontologist.[2]

Life and careerEdit

Kuhn was educated in Dinkelsbühl and Bamberg and then studied natural science, specialising in geology and paleontology, at the University of Munich, from which he received his D. Phil. in 1932.[1]

He worked in the University of Munich Geological Institute, among other things on the Fossilium Catalogus (Catalogue of Fossils), and then in 1938 on a stipend from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, moved to the University of Halle, where he worked on the Geiseltal fossils.[1] In 1939 he achieved his Habilitation with a thesis on the Halberstadt Keuper fauna, and in 1940 was named Privatdozent in geology and paleontology.[1]

Informed by his Catholic religion, Kuhn was an exponent of idealistic morphology: he viewed evolution as operating only within predetermined morphological classes.[3][4] In 1943 he declared, "The theory of descent has collapsed."[5] After a political conflict with his mentor, Johannes Weigelt, over evolution, Kuhn's teaching certification was withdrawn (in an act known as "remotion") in November 1941.[1][6][7] He had to leave Halle and was immediately called up for wartime service in the Wehrmacht. In February 1942 he was released because of lung disease. (He had been a member of the SA from 1933 to 1936 but left for health reasons.)[1]

In 1947 he became professor extraordinarius at the University of Bamberg, but left after a short time.[1]

Selected worksEdit

  • Paläozoologie in Tabellen. (1940)
  • Lehrbuch der Paläozoologie. (Textbook of Paleontology) (1949)
  • Die Deszendenztheorie: Grundlegung der Ganzheitsbiologie. (1951)
  • Lebensbilder und Evolution fossiler Saurier, Amphibien und Reptilien. (1961) (with Hartmut Haubold)
  • Die Vorzeitlichen Wirbellosen. System und Evolution. (1966)
  • Handbuch der Paläoherpetologie - Encyclopedia of Paleoherpetology. Stuttgart, New York: G. Fischer, 1978- . ISBN 3-89937-007-4. OCLC.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Oskar Kuhn" (in German). Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  2. ^ "Entry on Oskar Kuhn". Catalogue of the German National Library (in German). Retrieved 2010-07-11.
  3. ^ Martina Kölbl-Ebert, Geological Society of London, International Union of Geological Sciences, International Commission on the History of the Geological Sciences, Geology and Religion: A History of Harmony and Hostility, London: Geological Society, 2009, ISBN 978-1-86239-269-4, p. 213.
  4. ^ Georgy S. Levit and Kay Meister, The history of essentialism vs. Ernst Mayr's “Essentialism Story”: A case study of German idealistic morphology. Theory in Biosciences (2006), vol. 124, no. 3-4, pp. 281-307
  5. ^ Otto Heinrich Schindewolf and Wolf-Ernst Reif, Basic Questions in Paleontology: Geologic Time, Organic Evolution, and Biological Systematics, University of Chicago Press, 1993, ISBN 0-226-73834-5, p. 445.
  6. ^ Henrik Eberle, Die Martin-Luther-Universität in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus 1933-1945, Halle (Saale): Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-89812-150-X, pp. 101, 102: Weigelt regarded Catholic-inspired thought at the university that undercut evolution as a fundamental threat.
  7. ^ Hermann-Josef Rupieper, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg 1502-2002, Halle (Saale): Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-89812-144-5, pp. 478-80: the section on "Der ,Fall' Kuhn" states that Weigelt had brought Kuhn to Halle after he had been refused Habilitation at Munich.