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Richard Karl Wilhelm Theodor von Hertwig

Born  1850
Died  1937

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German biologist, born September 23, 1850, Friedberg, Hessen; died October 3, 1937, München.

Biography of Richard Karl Wilhelm Theodor von Hertwig

Richard Karl Wilhelm Theodor von Hertwig was the brother of Wilhelm August Oskar Hertwig (1849-1922). Richard Hertwig began the study of medicine at the University of Jena, but under the influence of Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834-1919) his interest turned more to zoology and biology. From 1971 to 1874 he studied at the University of Bonn, where he obtained his medical doctorate in 1872, but continued his studies, working under the anatomist Max Johann Sigismund Schultze (1825-1874).

Hertwig was habilitated for zoology in Jena in 1875, and in 1878 became extraordinary professor. Following Franz Hermann Troschel's (1810-1882) death in 1882, he moved to Königsberg to assume the chair of zoology, and in 1883 came to Bonn in the same capacity. During his brief period in Bonn, he stayed only for one term, he was able to establish an independent institute of zoology and comparative anatomy. Two years later he moved to Munich, where he remained from 1885 to 1925.

During his first years as a researcher he did much work with his brother Oskar. Together they developed the so-called theory of coelom formation proposed by Ernst Haeckel. This germ-layer theory, which has been of great importance in embryology, proposes that all organs and tissues are derived variously from three basic tissue layers.

Hertwig made systematic work on several groups of invertebrates and fundamental studies on the build of animals. Among the best known of these studies are his contributions on protozoa, and he was the first to describe artificial stimulation of sea urchin eggs (parthogenesis). He helped elucidate the reproductive process in paramecium, and studied determination in amphibias.

Richard Carl Wilhelm Theodor von Hertwig was knighted in 1910.

    "The time has come," the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax --
    Of cabbages -- and kings --
    And why the sea is boiling hot --
    And whether pigs have wings."
    Louis Carroll


  • Über den Befruchtungs- und Teilungsvorgang des Tierischen eies unter den Einfluss äusserer Agentien. Jena, 1887.
  • Lehrbuch der Zoologie. Jena, 1891; 15th edition, 1931.
    His most important work was to appear through 15 editions until 1931.
  • Das Nervensystem und die Sinnesorgane der Medusen. With Oskar Hertwig. 1878.
  • Die Actinien. With Oskar Hertwig. 1879.
  • Studien zur Blättertheorie.
    With Oskar Hertwig. 5 booklets. Jena, 1879-1883.
  • Die Chaetognathen, ihre Anatomie, Systematik und Entwicklungsgeschichte. Eine Monographie. With Oskar Hertwig. Jena, 1880.
  • Über den Bau der Ctenophoren. Jena, 1880.
    Heft 3 of: Oskar & Richard Hertwig: Studien zur Blättertheorie.
  • Die Coelomtheorie. Versuch einer Erklärung des mittleren Keimblattes.
    With Oskar Hertwig. Jena, G. Fisher, 1881.
    The "coelom" theory formulated to account for the classification and phylogeny of metazoan animals.
  • Erythropsis agilis. Eine neue Protozoe. Gegenbaurs Morphologisches Jahrbuch, Zeitschrift für Anatomie und Entwicklungsgeschichte, 1884, 10 (2):204-212, pl. 6.
  • Untersuchungen zur Morphologie und Physiologie der Zelle.
    6 parts, Jena, G. Fischer, 1884-1890.
  • Die Zelle und die Gewebe. 2 parts. Jena, G. Fischer, 1893-1898.
    Part I was translated as The Cell: outlines of general anatomy and physiology, London, 1895.
  • Theodor Boveri †.
    Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift, 1915, 62: 1643-1645.
  • Abstammungslehre und neuere Biologie. Jena, 1927.
  • K. v. Frisch:
    Richard von Hertwig. Gedächtnisrede. München, 1938. 26 pages.
We thank Rudolf Kleinert, Bad Reichenhall, Germany, for information submitted.

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