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Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, 1752-1840, founder of physical anthropology.

Blumenbach observed in 1775 that "innumerable varieties of mankind run into each other by insensible degrees." In 1776, he was named Professor of medicine at the University of Gottingen, where he began his research into the varieties of human beings. He was the first to propose a division of humanity into five races: Caucasian, Ethiopian, American, Mongolian, and Malay; it was in fact Blumenbach who first used the term Caucasian (derived from the residents of Georgia in the Caucasus Mountains) to describe the white race.

His most important works are the Collectio craniorum diversarum gentium illustrata (1790-1828) and On the Natural Variety of Mankind (1795).