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Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

Posted May 23, 2007 3:23 PM

Today marks the 300th birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish biologist known as the father of modern taxonomy. Linnaeus classified more than 4,000 animals and almost 8,000 plants. His system for naming, ranking, and classifying organisms by kingdom, class, order, genus, and species is still used today and taught in every high school biology class. Linnaeus' ideas about classification have influenced generations of biologists and other natural scientists both during and after his own lifetime.

Carolus Linnaeus was born on May 23, 1707, in southern Sweden at Stenbrohult in the province of Småland. His father, Nils Ingemarsson Linnaeus, was both an avid botanist and a Lutheran pastor. Linnaeus' family encouraged him from an early age to follow in his father's footsteps and pursue a career in religion, but he had no interest in becoming a preacher. He was so taken with his father's hobby that he chose to make it his life's work.

Carolus Linnaeus enrolled at the Lund University to study medicine so that he could concentrate on his true passion, botany. At that time, doctors studied botany extensively in order to prepare and prescribe drugs derived from medicinal plants. After a year of study, he transferred to the University of Uppsala, the most prestigious university in Sweden. Ultimately, Linnaeus finished his medical degree at the University of Harderwijk, and then enrolled at the University of Leiden for further studies in 1735.

During that same year, Carolus Linnaeus published the first edition of his Systema Naturae, a book which organized the natural world into just 11 oversized pages. The 10th edition, published in 1758, introduced the binomial nomenclature still used today. The modern system is an adaptation of his original scheme, ranking progressively more specific groups from kingdom to phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. Linnaeus continued to revise his Systema Naturae, which grew from a slim pamphlet to a multivolume work, as his concepts were modified and as more and more plant and animal specimens were sent to him from every corner of the globe.

Though revised multiple times, Carolus Linnaeus' taxonomy has been scrutinized ever since Charles Darwin popularized his theory of evolution with the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859. The cracking of the the DNA code almost 100 years later only emboldened critics. Still, prior to Linnaeus, the taxonomy of the natural world was in disarray with complex names for even the commonest of species, and multiple criteria for classifying them. Linnaeus' genius and the simplicity and logic of his taxonomic system made natural history accessible to everyone.

Resources:

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/linnaeus.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolus_Linnaeus

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/issues/2007/may/tribute-linnaeus.php?page=1

http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2007/05/linnaeus

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Popular Science - Weaponology - Scapolie, new member.

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1058
Good Answers: 8
#1

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

05/24/2007 8:23 AM

Hi julie. The Norwegians have named a flowering plant in Linnaeus's honour, and the street on which I lived in a small Norwegian town was named after this wild plant. Spencer.

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Power-User
United States - Member - Popular Science - Evolution - Aren't we still evolving?

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 219
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

05/24/2007 1:07 PM

How appropriate that a plant was named after a man that named and organized so many!


Thank you for sharing :)

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Active Contributor

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 16
#3

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

05/29/2007 2:35 PM

Hi there!

Did you also know that Linnaeus is responsible for the centigrade scale for measuring degrees that we use today?

Anders Celsius created the scale in which 0 degrees was the boiling point of water and 100 degrees was the freezing point. Linnaeus flipped the scale to the one we use today in which 0 degrees is the freezing point and 100 degrees is the boiling point! Maybe we should be saying "Degrees Linnaeus" instead!

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Anonymous Poster
#6
In reply to #3

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

08/07/2010 12:53 PM

stipid

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Anonymous Poster
#7
In reply to #3

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

08/07/2010 12:54 PM

nonsense

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Anonymous Poster
#4

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

11/02/2009 2:17 PM

im doing a report to this guy and thats awsome that he ma

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Anonymous Poster
#5

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

08/07/2010 12:47 PM

he studied in university of uppsala bloody beggar what stupid you are?

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Anonymous Poster
#8

Re: Happy Birthday, Carolus Linnaeus

09/07/2010 5:41 PM

happy b- day!!!!!reat in peace!!!1....

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