Human intermaxillary bone

human intermaxillary bone
Four images showing a tree-dimensional view of the intermaxillary bone of the human skull. Other figures from Goethe’s collection shown the same arrangement in the skull of an ape and in a variety of domesticated and wild animals. [5]
In science, the human intermaxillary bone refers to the premaxilla bone anterior to the maxilla bone found in the upper jaw of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. [1]

The term “intermaxillary bone” was introduced by German physician Johann Blumenbach (1752-1840). [1] Synonyms include: premaxillary bone, os incisivum, os intermaxillare (Os intermaxillary), premaxilla, and Goethei. [8] The discovery of the bone in humans is generally credited to German polyintellect Johann Goethe (1784); although, to note, recent research has shown that Frenchman naturalist Pierre Broussonet (1779) and physician Vicq d'Azyr (1780) also, independently, using different methods, identified the intermaxillary bone. [8]

In the mid-18th century, Dutch physician Petrus Camper (1722-1789) proposed the Biblically-friendly theory, which quickly became dogma, that the anatomical difference between man and animal was the missing intermaxillary bone in man, this being the distinguishing feature between man and monkey. [2]

Against the prevailing Camper theory, German polyintellect Johann Goethe, found, by "reflection and coincidence", the intermaxillary bone in the human skull, thus giving anatomical evidence of an evolutionary connection between man and animals. Goethe pronounced his discovery in a missive to his associate Johann Herder from Jena, 27 March 1784, at night:

“I have found neither gold nor silver, but something that unspeakably delights me—the human Os intermaxillary! I was comparing human and animal skulls with Loder, hit up the right track, and behold—Eureka! Only, I beg of you, not a word—for this must be a great secret for the present. You ought to be very much delighted too, for it is like the keystone to anthropology—and it’s there, no mistake! But how?”

This certified in Goethe the belief that there is no fundamental difference whatsoever between man and apes a theory that Herder would expound upon in his Ideas for the Philosophy of History of Humanity (1784–91). [9]

The premaxillae show an increasing tendency in the primate line of evolution to fuse with the maxillae and at the same time to become relatively reduced in size. In humans they can be recognized in the embryo, but in the normal adult skull they tend to have lost their separate identity.

To present his anatomical discovery to Camper, Goethe choose to use as an intermediary his good friend German author Johann Merck (1741-1791) who was in contact with Camper. [4] But Merck delayed the requested forwarding of the manuscript, belittled Goethe and the significance of his treatise considerably in an accompanying letter, did not forward Camper's replies, and in the meantime even took advantage of Goethe's treatise for his own publications. It was only late that Goethe became aware of the scheming and mean behavior of his "good friend", and he felt disappointed and betrayed by Merck.
Goethe (1784)
A 1920 rendition of Goethe searching for an discovering the human intermaxillary bone, by Russian artist Dmitrievich Ezuchevsky (1880-1928). [7]

Author S. Hellmich (1982) argues that this evil doing of Merck, in part, went into the character of Mephistopheles—the spirit who always plans evil and always denies—of Goethe’s Faust. [2]

Goethe held back the publication of his studies On the Premaxilla of Humans and Animals (Über den Zwischenkiefer des Menschen und der Tiere) for decades; publishing his results in 1820 as part of his fourteen volume collected scientific papers. [3] Three sketches of the human intermaxillary bone were published by Goethe in 1831 (volume 15, part 1, Nova Acta Leopoldina). [1]

According to Carl Becker, as discussed in his 2003 book A Modern Theory of Evolution, Goethe had “discovered the evolution of the human being from the ape”, a concept that prior to him had only existed as a metaphor in occult tradition: the ape representing man untransformed by alchemy. [6]

In 1965, German evolutionary biologist (powered chnopsologist) Wolfgang Schad (Ѻ), in his “Damming in the Human Skeleton”, expanded on Goethe's intermaxillary bone work, via comparison with embryology and sheep skulls.

1. (a) Wells, George A. (1967). “Goethe and the Intermaxillary Bone” (abs), The British Journal for the History of Science, 3(4): 348-61.
(b) Johann Blumenbach – Wikipedia.
2. (a) Hellmich S. (1982). “The Intermaxillary Bone and Goethe’s Mephistopheles” (abs), Laryngol Rhinol Otol (Stuttg). 61(10):552-6.
(b) Petrus Camper – Wikipedia.
3. Goethe-elephant (German → English) – Wikipedia.
4. Johann Heinrich Merck – Wikipedia.
5. (a) Fink, Karl J. (1991). Goethe’s History of Science (pgs. 22-23). Cambridge University Press.
Goethe, Johann. (1784). Dem Menschen wie den Tieren ist ein Zwischenknochen der odem Kinnlade zuzuschreiben (An Intermaxillary Bone is Present in the Upper Jaw of Man as well as in Animals). Sämtliche Werke 2: 530-545.
6. Becker, Carl J. (2003). A Modern Theory of Evolution (pg. 97). iUniverse.
7. Ezuchevsky, Mikhail Dmitrievich. (1920). “Goethe Discovers Human Intermaxillary Bone”,
8. (a) Barteczko, K. and Jacob, M. (1999). "A Re-evaluation of the Premaxillary Bone in Humans" (abs). Anatomy and Embryology, 207(6):417–37.
(b) Pierre Broussonet – Wikipedia.
(c) Felix Vicq-d’Azyr – Wikipedia.
9. Gabor, Zemplen. (1998). Goethean Science: Recent Topoi of Goethe Scholarship (§3: The Os Intermaxillare, pgs. 9-20). MS thesis, University.
9. (a) Schad, Wolfgang. (1965). “Damming in the Human Skeleton” (“Stauphanomeme am menschlichen Knochenbau”, Elemente der Naturwissenschaft, 3:15-27; in: Goetheanistische Naturwissenschaft: 4: Anthropologie (editor: Wolfgang Schad). Verlag Freies Geistesleben, 1984.
(b) Amrine, Frederick. (1983). “Readings in the Text of Nature: Three Contemporary Goetheans”, Conference on Science, Technology, and Literature, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York, Feb; in: Beyond the Two Cultures: Essays on Science, Technology, and Literature (editors: Joseph Slade and Judith Lee) (§2:39-49). Iowa State University Press, 1990.

Further reading
● Filler, Aaron G. (2007). The Upright Ape: A New Origin of the Species (Figure 2-2: Goethe’s Proof of the Human Intermaxillary bone; From: Goethe, 1784 and 1817; Plate I & Plate IX, original drawing by Waitz). New Page Books.

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