Monthly Archives: July 2009

Adolf Portmann and two poles of Vertebrata

Professor Adolf Portmann (27.V.1897 Basel – 28.VI.1982), Swiss zoologist and anthropologist. Former Rector of University of Basel.
His name is listed among fifteen “great names, great achievements” of Basel University next to Paracelsus, Bernoulli or Nietzsche (1). He is sometimes considered to be one of the most original biological thinkers of the twentieth century (2)(3). There has been a revival of interest in his work recently (2)(3)(4). Those who are interested in his thoughts about self-representation of species (Selbstdarstellung), own appearance (eigentliche Erscheinung) etc… should try his New paths in biology (5). I will just focus on one aspect of his legacy – form development and polarization of nerve and reproductive centres in Vertebrata. This issue may be of interest because it aroused noteworthy response of some Neodarwinian apologists.
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Wilhelm Troll and German Idealistic Morphology.

Wilhelm Troll ( 1897 M√ľnchen – 1978 Mainz), German morphologist who acquired international recognition (1). Since 1932 professor of botany at University Halle, 1946-1966 at Mainz. Author of many publications and textbooks. (2). ‘He provided the first general view on the diversity of plant form, and influenced German morphology for decades. At least 16 of his disciples have held a professorship in Germany and have passed on his typological concept’.(3)

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