Geological Society of London
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Reverent and exemplary: ‘dinosaur man’ Friedrich von Huene (1875–1969)

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posted on 2016-06-21, 12:14 authored by Susan Turner

Friedrich Freiherr (Baron) Hoyningen, better known as von Huene, was a palaeontologist who made major contributions to vertebrate, especially amphibian and reptile, taxonomy. He was the dinosaur doyen of the Institute and Museum of Geology and Palaeontology, University of Tübingen, and an important figure in the German scientific community for seven decades. Unlike his peers, he was a pious evangelical Protestant whose life and research were strongly influenced by his beliefs, which were unusual for a scientist in the 20th century and even for most contemporary Christians, and which he maintained throughout his life. His body of scientific and religious work and his correspondence with colleagues such as Tilly Edinger and Richard Lull, and the self-taught vertebrate palaeontologist Heber A. Longman in Australia, give insights into and contrasts to his thinking, and throw light on scientific exchange in general as well as von Huene's philosophy, personal beliefs, hopes and dreams, and on how he coped with the Third Reich. Longman, a professed agnostic, was mentored by von Huene during his early work on vertebrate taxonomy at the Queensland Museum. Their relationship lasted more than 25 years, although they never met. Unlike other 20th-century ‘life’ scientists, von Huene's scientific work and career were affected by his religious philosophy.

Supplementary Material: Huene bibliography is available at 18336.


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