Henry Fairfield Osborn

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Henry Fairfield Osborn, Sr.
BirthplaceFairfield, Connecticut
Known for geology. paleontology. eugenics

Osborn, Henry Fairfield


Born Aug. 8, 1857, in Fair-field, Conn., died Nov. 6, 1935, in Garrison, N. Y. American paleontologist. Professor at Princeton University (1882–90) and Columbia University (1891). President of the American Museum of Natural History (from 1908).

Osborn’s principal works dealt with terrestrial vertebrate fossils, predominantly mammals, including Perissodactyla, Brontotheriidae, and Proboscidea, and with the history of the theory of evolution. Osborn developed an eclectic concept of evolution, acknowledging the direct influence of the environment on the organism (Buffon’s factor), inheritance of the results of the use (or nonuse) of organs (Lamarck’s factor), and natural selection (Darwin’s factor). He also believed that autogenetic changes could occur in genetic material.


Davitashvili, L. Sh. Istoriia evoliutsionnoi paleontologii ot Darvina do nashikh dnei. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Istoriia evoliutsionnykh uchenii v biologii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
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Henry Fairfield Osborne, a wealthy railroad heir, distinguished paleontologist, and the head of the American Museum of Natural History, had a theory that large mammals first evolved in central Asia.