(b. Nürtingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, 21 April 1848; d. Lindau im Bodensee, Germany, 23 July 1923)
Comparative anatomy, embryology
Wiedersheim was greatly influenced by his father, who practiced general medicine and was also a naturalist and collector of zoological specimens; his mother, Berta Otto Wiedersheim, died after his birth. At the age of fifteen Wiedersheim devoted most of his time to the microscopic study of the freshwater hydra fusca and viridis.. Consequently his final school report in classical languages was a minor disaster. Although he wanted to study zoology, at the insistence of his father he began medical studies in October 1868 at the University of Tübingen, where he was a pupil of Leydig. In 1871 Wiedersheim transferred to the University of Würzburg to study under A. Koelliker and C. Hasse; the latter proposed to Wiedersheim a thesis on the structure of the stomach of birds, which was completed in 1872.
Wiedersheim finished his medical studies at the University of Freiburg, and became a university demonstrator and lecturer at Würzburg where he worked under Koelliker until 1876. At Würzburg he established himself as an excellent teacher of systematic and comparative anatomy. At the same time he also published papers on Comparative vertebrate anatomy. At the end of 1876 Wiedersheim was appointed associate professor of anatomy at Freiburg, and, in 1883, full professor and director of the Institute of Anatomy and Comparative Anatomy. During his early years at Freiburg, Wiedersheim began the work that led to his world-famous textbook on comparative anatomy Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere–based on the comparison of vertebrates, and their embryologic and phylogenetic development. English editions of Comparative vertebrate Anatomy by E. N. Parker appeared in 1886 and 1897. In 1907 a rewritten and revised third edition was published. Wiedersheim’s fame as a morphologist rests on his book, and numerous students from Europe and the United States were thus attracted to the Institute.
When Wiedersheim retired at the age of seventy, he had firmly established the teaching of comparative anatomy. The respect and affection that his pupils and colleagues had for him is evident in the special issue of the Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie (1924) published in honor of his seventy-fifth birthday. Wiedersheim was survived by his wife, Tilla Gruber. and one son.
I. Original Works. Wiedersheim’s works include “Die feineren Strukturverhältnisse der Drüsen im Muskelmagen der Vögel,” in Archiv für mikroskopische Anotomie und Entwicklungsmechanik,8 (1872), 435–452; “Beiträge zur Kenntnis der württemberg. Höhlenfauna,” in Verhandlungen der Würzburger physikalische medizinische Gesellschaft,4 (1873), 207–222; “Über den Mädelfund Schädelfund in Unterfranken,” in Archiv fϋr Anthropologie, 8 (1874), 225–238; “Salamandrina perspicillate und Geotriton fuscus. Versuch einer vergleichenden Anatomie der Salamandrinen,” in Annali del Museo civico di storia naturale Giacomo Doria,7 (1875), 5–206; “Bemerkungen zur Anatomie des Euproctus Rusconii,” ibid., 495–568; “Zur-Anatomie und Physiologie des Phyllodactylus europaeus mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Aquaeductus vestibuli der Ascalaboten im allgemeinen,” in Morphologishes Jahbuch,1 (1876), 495–534; “Die Kopfdrüsen der geschwänzten Amphibien und die Glandula intermaxillaris der Anuren,” in Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie,27 (1876), 1–50; “Die ältesten Formen des Carpus mit Tarsus der heutigen Amphibien,” in Morphologisches Jahrbuch, 2 (1876), 421–434; “Ülber Neubildung von Kiemen bei Siren Lacertina,” ibid.,3 (1877), 630–631; “Zur Fortpflanzungsgeschichte des Proteus anguineus,” ibid., 632; “Das Kopfskelett der urodelen,” ibid., 352–448; “Labyrinthodon Rütimeyeri,” in Abhandlungen der Schweizerischen paläontologischen Gesellschaft,5 (1878), 1–56; “Ein neuer Saurus aus der Trias,” ibid.,6 (1879), 75–124; “Die spinalartigen Hirnnerven von Ammocoetes und Petromyzon Planeri,” in Zoologischer Anzeiger.3 (1880). 446–449; “über den sogenannten Tentakel der Gymnophionen,” ibid., 493–496; “Über den Tarsus der Saurier,” ibid. (1880), 496; Morphologische Studien (1880); “Über die Vermehrung des Os centrale im Carpus und Tarsus des Axolotl,” in Morphologisches Jahrbush6 (1880), 581–583; “Zur Histologie der Dipnöer-Schuppen,” in Archiv für mikroskopische Anatomie und Entwicklungsmechanik18 (1880), 122–129; “Zur Anatomie des Amblystoma Weismanni,” in Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zologie,32 (1880), 214–236; “Vomero-Nasal (Jacobson’s) Organ,” in Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates,3 (1907), 271–273; and “Über das Becken der Fische,” in Morphologisches Jahrbuch,1 (1881), 326–327.
II. Secondary Literature. See “Robert Wiedersheim, Festschrift zu seinem 75. Geburtstag von seinen Schülern und Freundern,” in Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie,24 (1924).