He was educated in the university of Munich, and completed his studies at Heidelberg, where he graduated Ph.D. After some experience in field-geology under KW von Gümbel he joined the Austrian geological survey in 1868. Four years later he returned to Heidelberg, but in 1873 he was appointed professor of palaeontology in Vienna, and occupied this post until his death.
He dealt also with the zones of climate during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, and endeavoured to show that the equatorial marine fauna differed from that of the two temperate zones, and the latter from that of the arctic zone, much as the faunas of similar zones differ from each other in the present day; see his Über klimatische Zonen während der Jura und Kreidezeit (Denkschr. K. Akad. Wiss. Wien, 1883); he was author also of Erdgeschichte (2 vols, 1887); and Die Stämme des Thierreiches (vol. 1 only, 1889).
- Matthias Svojtka, Johannes Seidl & Michel Coster Heller: Frühe Evolutionsgedanken in der Paläontologie. Materialien zur Korrespondenz zwischen Charles Robert Darwin und Melchior Neumayr. in: Jahrbuch der Geologischen Bundesanstalt (Vienna), 149 (2/3), 2009, pp. 357–374 Download, German with English abstract
- Obituary: Blanford, WT (1890). "Proceedings". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 46: 54–56.