S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Hennig, Dr Edwin (geology, palaeontology)

Born: 27 April 1882, Place not known.
Died: 12 November 1977, Place not known.

Edwin Hennig, a German palaeontologist, studied the natural sciences, anthropology and philosophy at the University of Freiburg in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, from 1902. He obtained his doctoral degree in palaeontology with a thesis titled Gyrodus und die organisation der pyknodonten, published in Berlin in 1906. He then worked as an assistant to Wilhelm von Branca at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitaet in Berlin, where he attained his habilitation and became a private lecturer. In 1908 he published a German translation of parts of the journals of Captain James Cook, describing the latter's circumnavigation of the earth (Hamburg, 1908, 554p). During 1909 to 1912 he was a member of a three-man German expedition to investigate the late Jurassic Tendaguru Beds, in what is now Tanzania, led by Werner Janensch, curator of the Natural History Museum of Berlin. They discovered several new dinosaur species, including Kentrosaurus, which was described by Hennig in 1915. An almost-complete skeleton was at one time recovered and mounted in the Humboldt Museum, University of Berlin, but the museum was bombed during World War II (1939-1945) and many specimens were lost. Hennig's research on these strata resulted in about a dozen scientific papers between 1912 and 1935, all of them in German journals. He also published a book in which he described his experiences, Am Tendaguru: Leben und wirken einer deutschen Forschungs-expedition zur Ausgrabung vorweltlicher Riesensaurier in Deutsch-Ostafrika (Stuttgart, 1912, 151p).

With regard to southern Africa, Hennig first wrote a paper on "Wasserwirtschaftliche Probleme in Deutsch-Suedwestafrika" (Water development problems in German South West Africa; Technik und Wirtschaft, 1908). This was followed by comments on a paper by E. Stromer on the first fossil reptiles from the territory (Naturwissenschaftliche Wochenschrift, 1914), an obituary of Dr Hans Merensky* (Neues Jahrbuch fuer Mineralogie, Geologie und Palaeontologie, 1935), and "Die alten Kerne: Abschnitt Afrika (ohne Atlaslaender und Madagaskar) nebst Arabien" (in Regionale Geologie der Erde. Leipzig, 1938) - on a geological section through Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

During World War I (1914-1918) Hennig was a military geologist, but in 1917 was appointed professor at the University of Tuebingen and later became an academic rector and director of the geological palaeontology institute. Later in his career he published a handbook on palaeontology, Wesen und wege der palaeontologie (Berlin 1932, 512p) and described the geology of Germany in Geologie Grossdeutschlands (Stuttgart, 1942, 391p). In 1948 he proposed the name Praeanthropus, without a species name, for early hominid fragments found in 1939 by L. Kohl-Larson at Garusi, near Lake Eyasi, in northern Tanzania. His proposal was not successful, as the remains became generally regarded as belonging to the genus Australopithecus. Towards the end of his career he resumed his early study of the life and work of Captain James Cook and wrote James Cook, Erschliesser der Erde (Stuttgart, 1952, 141p).

List of sources:

Edwin Hennig, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Downloaded from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Hennig on 31 July 2017.

Hall, A.L. A bibliography of South African geology.... Pretoria: Geological Survey, Memoirs No. 18 (1922), 25(1927), 27(1931), and 30(1937).

Hugo, P.J., Schalk, K.E.L. and Barnes, S-J. Bibliography of South West African / Namibian earth science. Windhoek: Geological Survey of South West Africa / Namibia, 1983.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Serving History: Edwin Hennig. Downloaded from https://www.servinghistory.com/topics/Edwin_Hennig

Standard encyclopaedia of southern Africa (SESA). Cape Town: NASOU, 1970-1976.

Compiled by: C. Plug