Hanna Maria Zippelius

Hanna Maria Zippelius (* 19. May 1922 in Detmold, † 19. August 1994) was a German Ethologin, which itself over decades in particular with the innate bases of the able to communicateness of small mammals busy. In their much and passionately discussed age work (with the consciously ambiguous title „the presumptuous theory “) published they considered 1992 a comprehensive description, analysis and a criticism of the instinct theory of Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen.

Table of contents


after the Abitur 1940 began Hanna Maria Zippelius the study of the Zoologie, Botanik and chemistry in Freiburg in mash gau. In November 1941 it went to Munich, where it and. A. at Karl von Frisch on the study of the ultrasonic orientation of bats worked. From November 1943 up to the 1. May 1945 was active it as a scientific auxiliary worker under Karl von Frisch with „the Nosema prevention of epidemics introduced by the realm research service “, the fight of a bee epidemic.

To 24. May 1944 attained a doctorate to Hanna Maria Zippelius to the Dr. rer. nat. in Munich over „the mating biology of some Orthopteren kinds “, and. A. by the example of the field cricket. Afterwards it was mainly active as a honorary scientific auxiliary worker at the Lippi federal state museum Detmold 1946/47. In September 1947 it began the study of the Humanmedizin, first in Marburg and at 1948 in Bonn, with the goal of working in the border area between biology and medicine.

Into the 1950er-Jahren she worked by altogether four one year's research scholarships of the German research council (DFG) in a key program of the Federal Government over „behavior research and sense physiology “, on request and. A. by Konrad Lorenz. This led to a close co-operation with Wolfgang Schleidt of the institute for Max-Planck for behavior physiology in the area of ultrasonic orientation of various kinds of mouse as well as with and with the weasel.

1958 existed Hanna Maria Zippelius that medical state examination, so that she could have become active as a lady doctor. Starting from October 1959 she worked however as trainingassigned for the behavior biology of the mammals on zoo-logical Institut of the University of pouring. To 27. January 1965 followed their Habilitation at the University of pouring with the writing „communication media of native small mammals, a contribution for the problem of the animal language “.

Starting from that 1. April 1966 was employed it as trainingassigned for behavior research at the University of Bonn, where it to 20. December 1967 to the Privatdozentin for Zoologie (special for behavior customer) became. To 21. November 1972 was likewise appointed it, in Bonn, as the Professorin.

To 31. July 1987 was emeritiert it. After the early death of Professor. Klaus Immelmann represented it from October 1987 until September 1989 the chair for behavior physiology at the University of Bielefeld.

Their daughter is the Physikerin Annette Zippelius.

on the test stand: the instinct theory

after their initial main point of research, which ultrasonic communication with bats, mice and other small mammals had Hanna Maria Zippelius since her training activity in pouring studies to completely different questions from the area of communication lively and begeleitet, and. A. over innate and acquired behaviors with the human baby, over analogies in the behavior of humans and animal, over sounds in the social structure of nichthominider Primaten, over similarities in the behavior of forest dog and house dog, over the smell marking with mammals, to the Balz of the wood grouse, over gestures of threatening with birds, to the singing acquisition with Zebrafinken and to the territorial behavior of Anemonenfi.

In the summer 1980 H began. - M. Zippelius during the breeding period with open land observations in the silver sea gulls - colony on the North Sea - island Langeoog. The repeated study stays on Langeoog as well as following laboratory experiments with silver sea gull eggs and - Küken let rapidly serious doubts arise whether earlier verhaltenskundliche studies (and. A. by Nikolaas Tinbergen) for example the mechanisms of the egg identification with silver sea gulls had interpreted correct. So no preference knew “supernormal” trip also after several hundred tests (speak: the more largely the egg, the reaction) to be proven the more intensively. As reproducibly statements from Tinbergen did not prove to the parents recognition with Silbermöwen Küken in the Bonn control investigations furthermore. In contrast to older statements the tests of the working group put Zippelius close that silver sea gulls do not possess „innate pattern of “their parents, but all close, remarkable objects bepicken intensively and to finally learn, who brings them the fodder.

From view of Zippelius interpretations were not longer durable to the behavior of Stichlingen, which decrease/go back also on Nikolaas Tinbergen. The red belly of a male Stichlings was considered to it as combatreleasing characteristic, as innate release mechanism. Its work proved however as methodically contestable, experimental examinations points on substantially more complex causes for district fights. Irish from Eibl Eibesfeldt it knows in the course of the controversy however on the fact that the experiments for the reason, stated by Zippelius, had failed, because the Stichlingsmännchen had been thereby not in its used territory, but in a neutrally arranged aquarium, thus in strange environment. „One cannot repeat often enough, how important it is to become acquainted with first of all the animals before one commentated Zippelius Polemik in „sketch of the comparative behavior research “, Munich and Zurich experimented with them “, he 1999, S. 180.

The criticism of H. - M. Zippelius at substantial vouchers for the instinct theory, which was summarized 1992 in their 300 sides strong text book „the presumptuous theory “, developed by Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz, released 1993/94 an unusually violent public debate. It was carried at the beginning of particularly by school teachingnear media like „biology today “(„Ethologie on the test stand “) and psychology today („theory without value? “), soon in addition, of daily papers, among other things of the Frankfurt general one („key attractions in the twilight “), that Hamburg morning mail (“Lorenz the animals understood wrongly? “), the West German general one, Frankfurter Rundschau, the Rheini Merkur, the citizen of Berlin daily mirror and the salt citizen message.

The reaction of the few at that time still existing, classical ethologisch working groups existed and. A. to be able to disprove in the fact that Zippelius' working group was accused for its part data of the criticized Ethologen to have falsified in order it. Repetitions of the historical behavior experiments complained of by Zippelius, which could have contributed to a clarifying of the mutual reproaches, did not become however well-known and obviously also not undertaken. The early death of the experienced Professorin Hanna Maria Zippelius finally prepared a sudden end for the debate: The younger behavior biologists did not work mostly anyway already any longer on basis of the instinct theory (separate in the area of the behavior ecology, the Soziobiologie or the sense physiology), and the few remaining, German-language trailers of the classical comparative behavior research were missing now the adversary, against which they could rub. Since that time a universal model to understand the behavior to find was not no more tried.


  • Hanna Maria Zippelius: The presumptuous theory. A critical argument with the instinct theory of Konrad Lorenz and verhaltenskundlicher research practice, Braunschweig: 1992 (Vieweg), 295 S., ISBN 3-528-06458-7
  • Hanna Maria Zippelius: The oft-quoted Stichling - real an example for key attractions? In: Biology at school, 42. Class, number 9 (1993), S. 312-318
  • Hanna Maria Zippelius: Key attractions - or no? Results from mockup attempts to the begging behavior of Silbermöwenküken. In: Biology today No. 397 (May 1992), S. 1-5 (= supplement to the scientific one round-look, 45. Class, No. 5/1992)


  • Elizabeth von Falkenhausen: „Pickverhalten “. In: Biology today, No. 384 (1991), S. 8
  • Wolfgang rewinding stand: Behavior research in Germany. An overview. In: Biology today, No. 396 (1992), S. 1-6
  • Elizabeth von Falkenhausen: Behavior teachings - remains which? In: Practice of the natural sciences, volume 42, number 5 (1993), S. 41 FF.
  • Elizabeth Ponzelar attendant: Experienced science history - a didactic drama for handling of one scientific community with a Kritikerin. In: Biology regionally, information to instruction (move - Bez. Cologne and Duesseldorf), expenditure 1/1994, current. No. 4, S. 17-27
  • Karl-Heinz waving man: Innate with humans and animal. In: RAABits biology, collection of sheets, 1994: Heidelberg (Raabe specialized publishing house for the school) = shortened reproduction of „key attractions in the twilight “, Frankfurt one general newspaper of 13. To January 1993

see also


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