Karl Alfred von Zittel

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Karl Alfred von Zittel

Karl Alfred von Zittel.jpg

Karl Alfred Ritter von Zittel (September 25, 1839 - January 5, 1904), German palaeontologist, was born at Bahlingen in Baden.

He was educated at Heidelberg, Paris and Vienna. For a short period he served on the Geological Survey of Austria, and as assistant in the mineralogical museum at Vienna. In 1863 he became teacher of geology and mineralogy in the polytechnic at Karlsruhe, and three years later he succeeded Oppel as professor of palaeontology in the university of Munich, with the charge of the state collection of fossils.

In 1880 he was appointed to the geological professorship, and eventually to the directorship of the natural history museum of Munich. His earlier work comprised a monograph on the Cretaceous bivalve mollusca of Gosau (1863-66); and an essay on the Tithonian stage (1870), regarded as equivalent to the Purbeck and Wealden formations.

In 1873-74 he accompanied the Friedrich Rohlf's expedition to the Libyan desert, the primary results of which were published in Über den geologischen Bau der libyschen Wuste (1880), and further details in the Palaeontographica (1883). Dr Zittel was distinguished for his palaeontological researches. From 1869 until the close of his life he was chief editor of the Palaeontographica (founded in 1846 by W Dunker and H von Meyer).

In 1876 he commenced the publication of his great work, Handbuch der Palaeontologie, which was completed in 1893 in five volumes, the fifth volume on palaeobotany being prepared by WP Schimper and A Schenk. To make his work as trustworthy as possible Dr Zittel made special studies of each great group, commencing with the fossil sponges, on which he published a monograph (1877-79). In 1895 he issued a summary of his larger work entitled Grundzuge der Palaeontologie (ed. 2, part i, Invertebrata, revised by Dr Zittel in 1903; the American edition of 1900 by CR Eastman is so revised, sometimes in opposition to Zittel's views, as to be practically an independent work).

He was author of Aus der Urzeit (1873, ed. 2, 1875); and Die Sahara (1883). In 1899 he published Geschichte der Geologie und Palaeontologie bis Ende des 19 Jahrhunderts, a monumental history of the progress of geological science (Eng. trans., Mrs Maria M Ogilvie-Gordon, 1901). Dr Zittel was from 1899 president of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and in 1894 he was awarded the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London.


Note regarding personal names: Ritter is a title, translated approximately as Knight, not a first or middle name. There is no equivalent female form.


This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.


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