Research & Studies

Themes of Biological Inheritance in Early Nineteenth Century : Sheep Breeding as Revealed by J. M. Ehrenfels

The article was written with the contribution of Péter Poczai, iASK researcher and was released in Genes in 2022.


Among the so-called sheep breeders interested in biological inheritance in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and well before Gregor Johann Mendel, J. M. Ehrenfels (1767–1843) produced some of the most cogent writings on the subject. Although earlier in his career Ehrenfels was a strong advocate of environmental factors as influencers on the appearance of organisms, as a result of his discussions with Imre Festetics, he became convinced that whatever is passed from parents to progeny is more important and it is dependent on a “genetic force, the mother of all living things”. The sheep breeders kept issues of inheritance at the forefront of the Central European cultural context late into the nineteenth century

Keywords: deviations, genetic force, heredity, inbreeding, sheep’s wool

The article is available HERE, with full text.