chapter
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The Geometer of Race

Amongsuchapparentlycapriciousnamesinmyownfieldof biologyandevolution,noneseemsmorecurious,andnoneelicitsmorequestionsafi:erlecmres,thantheofficialdesignationof light·skinnedpeopleinEurope,westernAsia,andNorthAfrica asCaucasian.\'1/hyshouldthemostcommonracialgroupof the\VestemworldbenamedforamountainrangethatstraddlesRussiaandGeorgia?JohannFriedrichBlumenbach (1752-!H40),theGermananatomistandnaturalistwhoestablishedthemostinfluentialofallracialclassifications,invented thisnamein1795,inthethirdeditionofhisseminalwork,De Germ·isHumaniVarietateNativa(OntheNaturalVarietyof l\'lankind).Illumenbach'sdefinitioncitestworeasonsforhis choice-themaximalbeautyofpeoplefromthissmallregion, andtl1eprobabilitythathumanswerefirstcreatedinthisarea.