Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus - Encyclopedia




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GOTTFRIED REINHOLD TREVIRANUS (1776-1837), German naturalist, was born at Bremen on the 4th of February 1776. He studied medicine at Göttingen, where he took his doctor's degree in 1796, and a year later he was appointed professor of medicine and mathematics in the Bremen lyceum. He died at Bremen on the 16th of February 1837.

In the first of his larger works, Biologie; oder die Philosophie der lebenden Natur, which appeared from 1802-1805, Treviranus gave clear expression to the theory of "descent with modification." He believed that simple forms (Protists), which he termed "zoophytes," were "the primitive types from which all the organisms of the higher classes had arisen by gradual development," and he laid down as a fundamental proposition "that all living forms are the results of physical influences which are still in operation, and vary only in degree and direction." Like many after him, he directed attention to the influence of the male elements in fertilization as a source of variation, but laid emphasis only on the intra-organismal power of adaptation to surroundings. Whatever opinion be entertained in regard to the priority and the importance of the contribution made by Treviranus to the theory of evolution, it is at least certain that he was a learned naturalist and an acute thinker. His most important later work of a synthetic nature was entitled Erscheinungen and Gesetze des organischen Lebens (1831).

His younger brother, Ludolph Christian Treviranus (1779-1864), studied medicine at Jena, and was successively professor of medicine at Bremen lyceum (1807), professor of natural history at Rostock (1812), professor of botany and director of the botanical garden at Breslau (1816), and professor of botany at Bonn (1830).

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