Othenio Abel

Othenio Lothar Franz Anton Louis Abel ( born June 20, 1875 in Vienna, † July 4, 1946 in Pichlhof am Mondsee ) was an Austrian paleontologist and evolutionary biologist. He is regarded as the founder of paleobiology as a separate branch of the formerly completely geologically oriented times paleontology.


Othenio Abel was born in Vienna, the son of Professor Lothar Abel. In Vienna he studied until 1899 Law and Science and was awarded the degree as a Doctor of Philosophy from. As early as 1898 he was an assistant in the laboratory of the geologist Eduard Suess, 1901, he qualified as a lecturer in paleontology at the University of Vienna and worked from 1900 to 1907 at the Imperial Geological Institute. 1905 his son Wolfgang Abel was born, who was in the time of National Socialism worked as a "race researchers ".

1907 Othenio Abel associate professor in Vienna, and from 1917 to 1934 he served as professor of the Department of Palaeontology in Vienna. As such, he led several expeditions that made him known more widely, about the Pikermi expedition to Greece in 1912 and an American and a South African expedition (1925 or 1929). With particular zeal Abel investigated the so-called dragon cave at Mixnitz and their remains of cave bears.

1935 Abel was elected a member of the Scholars Academy Leopoldina. From 1935 to 1940 Abel was a full professor at the University of Göttingen in 1941 he became Professor Emeritus. In 1942 he was made an honorary member of the Paleontological Society.

Political attitude

As a student Abel 1897 was actively involved in the course of Badeni crisis of anti -Semitic riots at the university. After the First World War and the end of the monarchy Austria - Hungary, now a professor at the University of Vienna, he explained his fear of a takeover by " Communists, Social Democrats, and with the two allied Jews and again Jews." As the science journalist Klaus Taschwer 2012 published, Abel founded in the wake a acting in secret connection of a total of 18 Christian Socialist and German national professors who claim made ​​their influence in committees of the University, to prevent the research, and university careers Jewish and left scientists. The increasing violence Nazi- oriented student groups, especially against Jewish students he met with open sympathy. As these attacks were also directed against Catholic students came there to break with the Christian Socialists and he was in 1934 transferred from the Austro-fascist leadership as rector in early retirement, after which he took up a professorship in Göttingen.

1939, after the " Anschluss" of Austria to Nazi German empire, he visited Vienna and saw at the University of Vienna swastika flags were unfurled, to which he said: " That was the best moment of my life ." From the new rulers 1941, he was honored with the newly introduced title of " Honorary Senator " of the University of Vienna.

According to Constantin Graf Stamati, then working for the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories ( RMfdbO ), Abel was a " cultured Austrians from the Cavalier type". According Stamati Abel is on a working meeting of the " Center for Research on the East " of RMfdbO have given a lecture in 1944 in which he had the " sub-human theory also from the racial point of view in relation to the East" contradicted. Because such statements he should have been in the SS on the "black list ". The is about a letter of recommendation, also from 1944, opposite, with which he was nominated for the Goethe Medal because he was " in the years after the First World War in the fight against the threat of Judaization and alienation at the Vienna University always in the first row " had stood.


His field of work were fossil vertebrates, in which he still very much interpreted the phylogeny based on the model of Jean -Baptiste de Lamarck.

Othenio - Abel Prize

Starting in 1985, of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (AAS ) has been awarded every two years, endowed with 3,700 euros Othenio -Abel Prize to the author of an excellent publication in the field of paleobiology or for lifetime achievement in paleontology. After Abel was narrow with Nazism and its antisemitic attitudes and activities addressed the Academy decided in October 2012 renaming of the price.


  • Les dauphins longirostres you boldérien ( Miocene supérieur ) des environs d' Anvers. Brussels 1901 - 1931 doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.16053
  • Les odontocètes you Boldérien ( Miocene supérieur ) d' Anvers. Brussels 1905 doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.15923
  • Fossil Flight fish. Vienna 1906 doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.61007
  • The morphology of the Hüftbeinrudimente of cetaceans. Vienna 1907 doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.16064
  • Broad paleobiology of vertebrates. Stuttgart 1912 doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.61833
  • Prehistoric mammals. Jena 1914
  • Paleontology in research and teaching. Natural Sciences 3 (1915), 413-19
  • Paleobiology of cephalopods. Jena 1916 doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.46089
  • The tribes of vertebrates. Berlin, Leipzig, 1919, doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.2114
  • Textbook of Palaeozoology. Jena 1920
  • Life pictures of the wildlife of the past. Jena 1921 doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.61701
  • History and method of reconstruction of prehistoric vertebrates. Jena 1925
  • Paleobiology and phylogeny ". Jena 1929
  • The position of the people in the context of vertebrates. 1931
  • Prehistoric life traces. Jena 1935
  • The animals of antiquity in their habitat. Jena 1939
  • Prehistoric animal remains in the German myth, tradition and superstition. Jena 1939

From 1928 Othenio Abel was also editor of the journal Paläobiologica.