Georgio Daniel Coschwitz
Ductus salivaris novus per glandulas maxillares sublinguales linquamque excurrens cum vasis lymphatics variis communicans et in lingua locum excretionis habens
Georgio (Georg, Georgii, Georg) Daniel (David) Coschwitz, 1679-1729) was a Polish physician and pharmacist whose literary works are riddled with controversy and inaccuracy. His 50-page book Ductus salivaris novus per glandulas maxillares sublinguales linquamque excurrens cum vasis lymphatics variis communicans et in lingua locum excretionis habens left behind a legacy of false scientific "discoveries" and ignited a bitter scientific rivalry.
In his book, Coschwitz describes his discovery of a new salivary duct located under the tongue, provides drawings of the tongue and mouth, several animal dissections, of a drowned female child, and details of his methodology and dissection techniques. At the time of the book’s release, Coschwitz was most famously known for his generous contribution of an anatomy dissection theater to the University of Halle, Germany, as well as his revival and maintenance of their botany garden. Using his own money, Coschwitz created the university's first anatomy theater. At this, Coschwitz's reputation was also being targeted. Albercht Haller who was only seventeen, discredited his discovery by proving that the alleged salivary duct was just a venule. This elicited a series of bitter, public disputes between the young Haller and the 47-year-old Coschwitz. It was this book which arguably elevated Haller’s career, as he repeatedly embarrassed and discredited Coschwitz's work by criticizing his lack of sufficient evidence. He pointed out Coschwitz's use of an unhealthy human cadaver, his reliance on animal subjects, and his antiquated approach to the study of anatomy. For Haller, Coschwitz failed to embrace the transition to strictly empirical and evidence-based research and was still too reliant on previous literature. After his death, the dismissal of Coschwitz's discovery had already been accepted and his book was deemed a failure.
(Based on research done by Julia Kohler class of 2021 as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2017-2018. Edited by Ronna Abaeyv – Class of 2021.)