Johann Jakob Kaup

Johann Jakob Kaup ( born April 20, 1803 in Darmstadt, † July 4, 1873 ) was a German paleontologist and zoologist.


Johann Jakob Kaup came from very humble circumstances. His father, Lieutenant Frederick Kaup had to leave precipitately before the birth of his son because of a dispute with another officer Darmstadt. The young Kaup visited at the same time as Justus von Liebig and Georg Gottfried Gervinus the Latin School, the " educators ", now one of the sights of Darmstadt. Lack of money he dropped out of school in 1819, but began to deal with scientific questions. As in the following year his mother died, the seventeen year old Kaup was an orphan. Kaup earned his money with paperwork and the sale of birds that he shot with the blowpipe and then ausstopfte. He had learned from Dr. George Bekker The preparation craft, the Board of Naturalienkabinett in Darmstadt.

Kaup studied from 1822 in Göttingen, where Georg August Goldfuß taught zoology, after a year and went to Heidelberg in 1823 for two years to Leiden in the Netherlands in the " Rijks Museum van Naturlijke History ," where he and especially with studies of fish amphibians addressed. 1825 Kaup was an assistant at the museum in Darmstadt and was hired in 1828 by Grand Duke Ludwig I of 440 guilders a year as a " temporary assistant " at the Natural History Collection. He had this position until 1837 a moment, then was " real inspector ". Since his salary was not enough, he taught the sons of wealthy families. 1831 was the private scholar Kaup an honorary doctorate of the University of Giessen. In 1834 he married Elise Hauser; from their marriage emerged four daughters and one son. After completing his printing apprenticeship came the young Joseph Wolf (1820-1899), who was to ascend to the important animal painter of the 19th century, later, to Darmstadt and made lifelike illustrations of animals described by Kaup to.

For the Naturalienkabinett Kaup acquired in 1854 for just 1200 florins about 3.5 m high skeleton of an American mastodon (Mammut americanum ), which had to be sold after the death of the American artist and museum founder Charles Willson Peale. The mastodon, a distant relative and contemporary of Eurasian mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius ) from the last ice age, can be seen today in the Hessian State Museum in Darmstadt. In 1855 he was invited by Charles Lucien Bonaparte for three months to work in the he headed fish collection of the Musée d' Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Kaup in 1858 by Grand Duke Ludwig III. appointed professor of zoology.

Johann Jakob Kaup died on July 4, 1873 and was buried at the old cemetery on the low - Ramstädter road. Even in his death in his Kaupstraße was dedicated in Darmstadt, which still bears his name.

Scientific achievements

In his published April 1829 work " sketch embryology of European animal world " Kaup came to for his time surprisingly modern insights and principles developed that are remarkably similar to the 1859 presented by Charles Darwin principles of biological evolution. From these early theories to Kaup later distanced however again. In 1832 he accepted the invitation of Heidelberger naturalist Heinrich Georg Bronn to collaborate on the new yearbook of Mineralogy, geology and palaeontology, and has published numerous writings that experienced general attention.

Kaup described and named not only the first time a number of taxa living today, but also in many geological past, extinct, fossil animals. Noteworthy was the Deinotherium described in 1829: an animal with a trunk, were found by the numerous specimens in the well-known by their abundance of large mammal remains Dinotheriensanden Rheinhessen. Four years later, he described the Chalicotherium, a very large claw- bearing Perissodactyla from the Miocene; the following year he set up the plant species of pterosaur ( Pterosauria ). In 1835 he published his work on the Chirotherium, presumably a representative of the Archosauria from the Lower Triassic ( Buntsandstein ). The Fund is a pure trace fossil, as Kaup had described only on the basis of a track impression found in southern Thuringia in Hildburghausen on a sandstone slab; the cause of the track is not positively identified until today. 1856 published Kaup about an unknown species, which he called Leptocephalus brevirostris. It was only in 1893 presented his opinion as error out: What he had taken for his own way, was actually called the willow leaf larva ( Leptocephaluslarve ) of the European eel.

Kaup enjoyed because of its many excellent works on living and fossil animals in high esteem by the leading scientists of his time, so when Georges Cuvier, the founder of vertebrate paleontology, and Richard Owen, one of the leading paleontologists of his time, he was in a lively correspondence. A number of Tiertaxa were named in honor of Kaup, for example Kaupichthys, a genus of fish from the order of eel-like.

Scientific writings

  • Sketch of the history of development of European animal world (1829 )
  • New Year book of mineralogy, geology and palaeontology (1832 ) Collaboration
  • The Gavial -like residues from the Lias (1842-1844) together with Heinrich Georg Bronn
  • Classification of Mammals and Birds ( 1844)
  • Contributions to the knowledge of the surrounding primeval mammals (1855-1862)