Gustaf Retzius

Magnus Gustaf Retzius ( Stockholm , 17 of October 1842 – † 21 of July 1919 ., Ibid) was a botanist , physician and anatomist Swede , who devoted much of his life to investigating the histology of organs and nervous system .


Aboriginal Stockholm , son of the anatomist Anders Retzius (and grandson of naturalist and chemist Anders Jahan Retzius ). He studied at the University of Upsala in 1860, and received his degree medicine kandidat in 1866, transferred to the Karolinska Institute (KI), where he was graduated in medicine in 1869 and completed his doctorate in medicine ( Ph.D. ) in 1871 by the University Of Lund . And he received an extraordinary teaching staff in histology in KI in 1877 and another ordinary in anatomy there in 1889 (acting from 1888), and resigned him in 1890 after conflicts with other members of the institute; His wealthy marriage actually allowed him to pursue his research and writing without a job.

He published over 300 scientific papers on anatomy, embryology , eugenics , craniometry , zoology and botany . It gave its name to Retzius cells 60 micrometers in diameter in the central nervous system of the leech ( Hirudo medicinalis ). However, there is also a darker side to his scientific career: Gustaf Retzius is one of the fathers of the pseudo-scientific racial theory, ” scientific racism ,” and one of those who tried to glorify the ” Norse race ” as the highest Race of humanity. He was also a journalist and editor of the newspaper Aftonbladet (1884-87). Retzius was married to feminist Anna Hierta , the daughter of Aftonbladet founder Lars Johan Hierta .

He was politically and socially active. Together with his wife he founded the Hierta-Retzius Foundation , which is now run by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences , which Retzius has been a member since 1879. The foundation has two funds, one for the promotion of biological research and the other for support to Projects of important scientific or social character.

Main works

  • Några dikter af Robert Burns , translated from English, Klemming antiquarian, Stockholm, 1872.
  • Hvad har studiet af menniskorasernas hufvudskålsbildning hittills uträttat och hvad torde vi närmast hafva att vänta af denna forskning. , Stockholm, 1874
  • Alphonse Bertillons antropometriska method att identifier brottslingar. Stockholm, 1893 (jfr phrenology )
  • Blick på den fysiska antropologiens history , Ymer , 1896, s. 221.
  • Obituary YMER on Hjalmar Stolpe, 1905.
  • Om de af Svenska sällskapet för antropologi och geografi föranstaltade antropologiska undersökningarna öfver svenska värnpliktige , Ymer, 1899, p. 405.
  • Om den germanska ras-typen: föredrag vid nedläggandet af präsidiet i K. vetenskapsakademien 1901 , Stockholm, 1901
  • The so-called North European race of mankind: a review of and view on the development of some anthropological questions , London, 1909
  • Wächst noch die Grösse des menschlichen Gehirns infolge der Einwirkung der “Kultur”? (“Does the size of the human brain grow as a result of the impact of culture?”) Stuttgart, 1914
  • Biografiska anteckningar och minnen ( postum ) Upsala, 1933


  • 1901: member of the Swedish Academy .

Abbreviation (botany)

  • The abbreviation G.Retz. Is used to indicate to Gustaf Retzius like authority in the description and scientific classification of the vegetables. (See the list of all genera and species described by this author in IPNI ).


  • ‘Gustaf Retzius’ . International Plant Names Index (IPNI) . Royal Botanical Garden of Kew , Herbarium of Harvard University and Australian National Herbarium (eds.). .
  • Sjöstrand, Lars (2008). «Gustaf Retzius – great researcher and controversial cultural personality». Läkartidningen (English) 105 (8): 559-61. PMID  18363303 .
  • Hawkins, Joseph E (2005). «Sketches of otohistory. Part 6: Gustaf Retzius. Audiol. Neurootol. (In English) 10 (2): 65-68. doi : 10.1159 / 000083361 . PMID  15650297 .
  • Grant, G (August 1999). «Gustaf Retzius and Camillo Golgi ». Journal of the history of the neurosciences (English) 8 (2): 151-163. doi : 10.1076 / jhin. . PMID  11624296 .
  • Grant, G (January 2000). «The histologist and anatomist Gustaf Retzius. He never received the Nobel Prize in spite of his twelve nominations. Läkartidningen (English) 97 (1-2): 64-70. PMID  10668335 .
  • Afzelius, BA (October 1995). ‘Gustaf Retzius and spermatology ‘. Int J Dev Biol… (In English) 39 (5): 675-85. PMID  8645550 .
  • HAGGQVIST, G (December 1960). «Gustaf RETZIUS». Svenska läkartidningen (in Swedish) 57 : 3699-706. PMID  13710525 .