He was educated at Berlin, where he took his degree of Ph.D. in 1870. In 1882, he became professor of geology in the University of Marburg. He investigated fossils of various ages and from all parts of the world, but more especially from the Palaeozoic formations, including those of South Africa, the Polar regions, and notably the Devonian fossils of Germany, Bohemia and other parts of Europe.
Among his separate works are Lehrbuch der Geologie (2 vols.): ii. Geologische Formationskunde (1891; 2nd ed., 1902), and i. Allgemeine Geologie (1893); vol. ii. (the volume first issued) was translated and edited by P. Lake, 1893, under the title Textbook of Comparative Geology. Another work is Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Fauna der Siegenschen Grauwacke (1892).