Dragutin finished the elementary education in Zagreb. He started studying paleontology in Zürich, Switzerland. Soon, he moved to München, where his lecturer was world-renowned expert in the areas of anatomy and paleontology Karl Zittel. He received a doctoral degree in 1879, (Tübingen, Germany), with the work related to the fossilized fishes.
From 1880, his duty was that of the curator at the Mineralogical Department of the Croatian National Museum and, in collaboration with his superior, the famous archaeologist Djuro Pilar, he started mapping Mount Medvednica, (medvjed = bear, in Croatian), a mountain just north of Zagreb. In 1890 he changed his family name into -- Gorjanović.
His lecturing started in 1883 with the paleontology of the vertebrates at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Zagreb. With the year 1884 he was appointed assistant, associate and finally full professor it 1896. In 1893 he became head of the Geological-Paleontological Department of the Croatian National Museum in 1893 and was engaged in paleontology, stratigraphy, tectonics, paleoclimatology, and also in applied geology, geological mapping and hydrography. Gorjanović-Kramberger discovered, described, classified, systemized, aged and determined environments for numerous new species of fossilized fishes. Already as the young scientist at the end of 19th century, he published more than fifty works in prestigious European scientific journals.
In 1899 on Hušnjak hill, near the town of Krapina in Croatia, he discovered a very rich Neandertal site of an early man today known as Krapina man (Krapinski pračovjek). News of the important discovery quickly spread all around Europe and beyond while he kept carrying out extensive scientific research of osteological human material, fauna, ecological conditions, life and culture of people once living here. While analyzing founds, he noticed unusually big variations among the bones.
With time he realized that evolution, not bone disease, as mainstream science claimed, was the source of variability which created human individuals of different stature. The greatest scientific contribution of his is the analysis and interpretation of fossil remains, which proved the existence of "early humans" whom he correctly predicted and called -- (Homo primigenius). The same preceded the present day people in the course of evolution. Contribution of Gorjanović-Kramberger is not seen only in terms of a scientific result proving the evolution of human species but also in terms of the impact his theories and evolution in general have had on the social view of the world.
To confirm his conclusion further, he started the study of skeletons relating to modern humans. Inevitably, he invented new scientific technique as analysis of the fluorine in bones to calculate age. Newly discovered X-rays were used by him for the first time upon their discovery in 1895 to analyze the inner bone structure. Soon, leading experts in the area of anthropology, anatomy and related sciences started to show interest. Results of the research related to Krapina could be found in the monograph O diluvijalnom čovjeku iz Krapine, (Der Diluviale Mensch von Krapina in Kroatien - On the diluvial man of Krapina), which was published in Wiesbaden in 1906. The publication was the most comprehensive work ever written in the area of the paleontology of the man.
In 1909, he founded the Geological Commission for Croatia and Slavonia with the goal to carry out geological mapping and research in pedology. In 1911 the news was scientific journal Vijesti geološkog povjerenstva, (Geology related news). That development within the scientific institution and in public enabled Croatian geological service to become independent from the Geological Institute in Budapest, (Hungary) and in the time to become the present day Hrvatski geološki institut - Croatian Geological Survey in Zagreb.
During his career he published more than 230 papers in Croatian and international journals. He made a couple of geological maps. He was honorary doctor of the University of Zagreb, member of the Association of Medical Doctors and Croatian Natural Sciences Association, an honorary citizen of Zagreb, Karlovac and Krapina. Gorjanović-Kramberger was member to nine foreign scientific associations. As very young, from 1891, he was an associate and from 1909 the full member of the then Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts. Though retiring, Gorjanović-Kramberger remained active. Between years 1899 and 1929 he published 53 works related to discoveries related to the famous Krapina site.