Prof. Dr. Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt

On Saturday, 2 June 2018, Prof. Dr. Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt died shortly before his 90th birthday in the circle of his family. As a student of Nobel Laureate Konrad Lorenz, he travelled at a young age with marine biologist Hans Hass to Galapagos to establish the first nature and species conservation programmes, with the help of UNESCO. Later he turned his research towards evolutionary biology of human perception, sensation, thought and behavior. He is the founder of the research branch Human Ethology and since 1970 head of his own research unit. At the end of the eighties he founded the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Urban Ethology in Vienna together with his student Dr. Karl Grammer. With his Human Ethology Film Archive and an impressive life's work on publications, Prof. Dr. Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt holds the world's largest comparative cultural documentary archive about human behavior. An application for admission in UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme is in preparation. He has been honored by numerous prizes and awards.

Curriculum vitae

* June 15, 1928 in Vienna, Austria † June 2, 2018 in Starnberg-Söcking

1945-1949 study at University of Vienna (Zoology), Promotion Dr. phil. December

research associate at the Biological Station Wilhelminenberg near Vienna (Head: Otto Koenig)


research associate of the Institute for Comparative Behavior Studies in Altenberg near Vienna (Head: Prof. Konrad Lorenz)


Max-Planck-Institute for Behavioral Physiology (first at Buldern, Westphalia, from 1957 at Seewiesen, Bavaria)


first Xarifa-Expedition with Prof. Hans Hass: Caribbean Sea, Galápagos


Head of the UNESCO expedition to the Galápagos Islands


second Xarifa-Expedition with Prof. Hans Hass: Maldives, Nicobares


Honorary Scientific Director of the International Institute for Submarine Research in Vaduz, Liechtenstein


guest Professor at the University of Chicago, Department of Psychology


habilitation at the University of Munich


first textbook on Ethology (english ed. 1970)


guest Professor at the University of Minnesota, Institute for Child Development


Professor of Zoology at the University of Munich


Head of a Research Group for Human Ethology which became an independent Research Institute for Human Ethology of the Max-Planck-Society in 1975 (until 1986 in Seewiesen, then in Andechs)


first textbook on human ethology (english ed. 1989)


President of the International Society for Human Ethology

Since 1992

Honorary Director of the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Urban Ethology in Vienna


as Prof. Emeritus at the Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen and Andechs) continuing his Research as Head of the Film Archive of Human Ethology (Andechs)

Since 1997 Ordinary Member of the Humanwissenschaftliches Zentrum (HWZ) of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich

After twenty years of research in Animal Behavior and Marine Biology, in the 1960ies Irenaeus Eibl-Eibesfeldt began with research studies in Human Ethology. Through his studies of expressive behavior of deaf and blind born, and his cross-cultural documentation programme of human behavior, he contributed significantly to establish the discipline of Human Ethology.

During a longterm project in the search for universals, he documented in numerous expeditions in longitudinal studies social interaction in everyday life, rituals and other activities in different cultures, whom he visited regularly, some of them over a period of 30 years or longer: the Yanomami (Waika-Indians Upper Orinoko, South America), Himba (Namibia), Kalahari Bushmen (!Kung, G/wi, !Ko, Botswana), Eipo (West-Irian, New Guinea), Biami (Papua New Guinea), Bali and Trobriand Islanders. The documentation of this ongoing research is housed at the Film Archive of Human Ethology in Andechs.

Some Memberships


1957      Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft

1959      Founding member of the Charles Darwin Foundation (since 1962 executive board)

1963      Corresp. member of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN - 
Research Institute and Natural History Museum) 

1972      Founding member of the International Society for Research on Aggression

1972      Founding member of the International Society for Human Ethology (executive board 1978-1982; President 1985-1991)

1977      Corresp. member of the Academia Leopoldina, Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher

1980      Founding member of the Konrad-Lorenz-Gesellschaft für Umwelt- und Verhaltenskunde

1983      Program Review Council of the The Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife, Research, Education & Conservation

1987      Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences

1990      Founding Member and Prodekan of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences

             Member of the advisory board of The Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Altenberg

1991-2008       Founder and Scientific Director of the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Urban Ethology in Vienna

1993      Head of the advisory board of the Peter and Traudl Engelhorn Foundation

1997      Founding Member of the Humanwissenschaftliches Zentrum (HWZ) of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich

1998      Member of the advisory board of the Heinz Sielmann Foundation

Member of various other scientific organisations and societies such as the Animal Behavior Society (Fellow), Gesellschaft für Anthropologie (Society for Anthropology, 1968), Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (Society for Threatened Peoples, 1977), Deutsche Liga für das Kind, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Ethnomedizin (German Society for Medical Anthropology, 1978), Ethologische Gesellschaft (1980), Namibia Scientific Society (corresp. member, 1985), etc.


1971    Goldene Bölsche Medaille der Kosmos Gesellschaft (appreciation of merits for the popularization of his field of science)

1981    Burda-Preis für Kommunikationsforschung (in medias res, Award for communication-research)

1988    Philip Morris Forschungspreis (Philip Morris Research Award)

1989    Goldene Ehrenmedaille der Stadt Wien (Golden Medal of Honor of Vienna, Austria)

1994    "Doctor Honoris Causa" (Philosophy) of University Salamanca, Spain

1995    Großes Verdienstkreuz des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany)

1996    Libellenorden der Nationalpark-Akademie Donau-Auen des naturhistorischen Museums Wien (appreciation of merits for the international nature conservation) for supporting nationalpark projects of international rank especially by initiatve and scientific consulting for Galápagos national park

1996    Schwenk'scher Umweltpreis der Stadt Ebersberg (award for environmental protection)

1997    Haackert-Stiftung Medaille (Haackert Foundation Medal) for excellent achievements in research in human behaviour

1997    Bayerischer Verdienstorden (Bavarian Order of Merit)

1997    Jahrespreis der Stiftung für Abendländische Ethik und Kultur STAB, (Award of the year of the Foundation for Occidental Ethics and Culture), Zurich, Switzerland

1998    Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst I. Klasse (Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class)

1998    Inge and Werner Grüter-Prize for Scientific Publicity 1998 for his services to Marine Biology and Reef Research

1999    Premio Catedra Santiago Grisolía for his services to the research on Human Ethology and aggressiveness; Centro Reina Sofía, Valencia, Spain

2001    Große Goldene Peutinger Medaille (Great Golden Peutinger Medal)

2001    Ehrenpreis der Heinz-Sielmann-Stiftung (Award of Honour of the Heinz-Sielmann-Foundation)

2003    Goldenes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das Land Wien (Golden Badge of Honor for services to the federal state of Vienna, Austria)

2005    “Doctor Honoris Causa“ (Psychology) of the University of Bologna, Italy

2007    Orden Nacional Al Merito de la Republica del Ecuador en Grado de Comendador (Order of merit of the Republic of Ecuador), Quito, Ecuador

2011    Premio Nonino for Lifetime Achievement (Nonino Prize for Literature), Italy




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