Johann von Goethe, German author

Johann von Goethe, German author

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German author and scientist. One of the greatest figures in German literature, he also applied himself to science. As an anatomist, he showed that the human jawbone contained structures similar to those in other creatures. Goethe also proposed that the skull was formed of extended, fused vertebrae. His botanical study was published as "Metamorphosis of Plants", stating that all plant structures were modified leaves. He was an early evolutionist who believed that animals became more "specialised" through the ages. Goethe also wrote about optics, but he incorrectly opposed Newton's idea that white light was made of a number of colours.

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