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Henry Fairfield Osborn, Sr. ForMemRS[1] (August 8, 1857 – November 6, 1935)[2] was an American paleontologist, geologist and eugenics advocate. He was the president of the American Museum of Natural History for 25 years.

While believing in common ancestry bet

We have all borne with the ape and monkey and ape hypothesis long enough are we are glad to welcome this new idea of the aristocracy of man back to a even remote period than the beginning of the stone age.[25]

While believing in common ancestry between man and ape, Osborn denied that this ancestor was ape-like. The common ancestor between man and ape Osborn always maintained was more human than ape. Writing to Arthur Keith in 1927, he remarked "when our Oligocene ancestor is found

While believing in common ancestry between man and ape, Osborn denied that this ancestor was ape-like. The common ancestor between man and ape Osborn always maintained was more human than ape. Writing to Arthur Keith in 1927, he remarked "when our Oligocene ancestor is found it will not be an ape, but it will be surprisingly pro-human".[26] His student William K. Gregory called Osborn's idiosyncratic view on man's origins as a form of "Parallel Evolution", but many creationists misinterpreted Osborn, greatly frustrating him, and believed he was asserting humankind had never evolved from a lower life form.[27]

Osborn was originally a supporter of Edward Drinker Cope's neo-Lamarckism, however he later abandoned this view. Osborn became a proponent of organic selection, also known as the Baldwin effect.[28]

Osborn was a believer in orthogenesis; he coined the term aristogenesis for his theory. His aristogenesis was based on a "physicochemical approach" to evolution.[28] He beli

Osborn was a believer in orthogenesis; he coined the term aristogenesis for his theory. His aristogenesis was based on a "physicochemical approach" to evolution.[28] He believed that aristogenes operate as biomechanisms in the geneplasm of the organism. He also held the view that mutations and natural selection play no creative role in evolution and that aristogenesis was the origin of new novelty.[29] Osborn equated this struggle for evolutionary advancement with the striving for spiritual salvation, thereby combining his biological and spiritual viewpoints.[30]

He advocated the common view of the time, namely that heredity is superior to influences from the environment. As an extension of this, he accepted that distinct races existed with fixed hereditary traits, and held the Nordic or Anglo-Saxon "race" to be highest. Osborn therefore supported eugenics to preserve "good" racial stock. Due to this, he endorsed Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race, writing both the second and fourth prefaces of the book, which argued for such views.[31] The book was also largely influential on Adolf Hitler. Hitler called the book, ‘his bible’ for it advocated a rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit.[32]

Personal life

An African dwarf crocodile, Following an "illness of nearly a year", his wife died at their country home in August 1930.[33] Osborn died suddenly on November 6, 1935 in his study at Castle Rock, overlooking the Hudson River.[2]

An African dwarf crocodile, Osteolaemus osborni, was named in his honor by Karl Patterson Schmidt in 1919.[43]

Published books

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