Björn Kurtén

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Björn Olof Lennartson Kurtén (1924–1988) was a distinguished vertebrate paleontologist. He belonged to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. He was a professor in paleontology at the University of Helsinki from 1972 up to his death in 1988. He also spent a year as lecturing guest professor at Harvard University in 1971.

In Not from the Apes (1971) Kurtén argued that man's development has been separate from that of monkeys and apes for at least 35 million years, and that man did not descend from anthropoids, but rather the reverse.

He was also the author of an acclaimed series of books about modern man's encounter with Neanderthals, such as Dance of the Tiger (1978, 1980). When asked what genre these works belonged in, Kurtén coined the term paleofiction to describe his oeuvre. This genre was popularized by Jean M. Auel in her Earth's Children series of books. He received several awards for his books around popularized science, among others the Kalinga Prize from UNESCO.

In the 1980s, Kurtén also hosted a 6-part TV series about the ice age, co-produced by several Scandinavian TV channels.

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Istiden (The Ice Age) (Forum, 1969)
  • Den svarta tigern (1978) (Dance of the Tiger, 1980)
  • Mammutens rådare (1982) (Singletusk)
  • De skuldlösa mördarna (1987) (The Innocent Assassins, Columbia University Press, 1991)
  • The Cave Bear Story: Life and Death of a Vanished Animal (Columbia University Press, NY, 1976)
  • The Age of Mammals (Columbia University Press, NY, 1973)
  • Not from the Apes (Pantheon, 1971)

Kurtén also published some fifty scientific works, two of them in cooperation with the Spanish paleontologist Miquel Crusafont Pairó.

External links[edit]