Johann Friedrich Gmelin

J. F. Gmelin

Johann Friedrich Gmelin (1748–1804)
Born (1748-08-08)8 August 1748
Tübingen, Holy Roman Empire
Died 1 November 1804(1804-11-01) (aged 56)
Göttingen, Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Nationality German
Fields Naturalist, botanist and entomologist
Institutions University of Göttingen
University of Tübingen
Alma mater University of Tübingen
Doctoral advisor Philipp Friedrich Gmelin
Ferdinand Christoph Oetinger
Doctoral students Georg Friedrich Hildebrandt
Friedrich Stromeyer
Carl Friedrich Kielmeyer
Wilhelm August Lampadius
Known for Textbooks
Author abbrev. (botany) J.F.Gmel.
He was the eldest son of Philipp Friedrich Gmelin and the father of Leopold Gmelin.

Johann Friedrich Gmelin (8 August 1748 – 1 November 1804) was a German naturalist, botanist, entomologist, herpetologist and malacologist.


Johann Friedrich Gmelin was born as the eldest son of Philipp Friedrich Gmelin in 1748 in Tübingen. He studied medicine under his father[1] at University of Tübingen and graduated with an MD in 1768, with a thesis entitled: Irritabilitatem vegetabilium, in singulis plantarum partibus exploratam ulterioribusque experimentis confirmatam., defended under the presidency of Ferdinand Christoph Oetinger,[2] whom he thanks with the words Patrono et praeceptore in aeternum pie devenerando, pro summis in medicina obtinendis honoribus.


In 1769, Gmelin became an adjunct professor of medicine at University of Tübingen. In 1773 he became professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of medicine at University of Göttingen. He was promoted to full professor of medicine and professor of chemistry, botany, and mineralogy in 1778. He died in 1804 in Göttingen.

Johann Friedrich Gmelin published several textbooks in the fields of chemistry, pharmaceutical science, mineralogy, and botany. He also published the 13th edition of Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus in 1788 and 1789. This contained descriptions and scientific names of many new species, including birds that had earlier been catalogued without a scientific name by John Latham in his A General Synopsis of Birds. Gmelin's publication is cited as the authority for over 290 bird species.[3]


Among his students were Georg Friedrich Hildebrandt, Carl Friedrich Kielmeyer, Friedrich Stromeyer and Wilhelm August Lampadius. He was the father of Leopold Gmelin.

He discovered the Redfin Pickerel in 1789.

In the scientific field of herpetology, he described many new species of amphibians and reptiles.[4]

In the field of malacology, he described and named many species of gastropods.

The abbreviation "Gmel." is also found.[6]


Göttingen, Cheltenhampark, Grave of Johann Friedrich Gmelin


  1. Mainz, Vera V.; Gregory S. Girolami (1998). "Genealogy Database Entry: Gmelin, Johann Friedrich" (PDF). School of Chemical Sciences Web Genealogy. University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
  2. Irritabilitatem vegetabilium in singulis plantarum partibus exploratatam
  3. Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "IOC World Bird List Version 5.4". International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  4. The Reptile Database.
  5. IPNI.  J.F.Gmel.
  6. See for instance: Audubon, John James (1831) - Ornithological Biography : Volume 1, p. 232. Online available at wikisource.
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