Evolutionary Biology/Carl Linnaeus

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< Evolution before Darwin

Carolus Linneaus (1707-1778) laid out much of the foundation of modern taxonomy

Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) was a Swedish botanist and taxonomist. One of his principle contributions was the taxonomic system of binomial nomenclature. He turned away from his love of botany in order to pursue the medical field (?). While studying in the Netherlands, he published his first work, entitled Systema Naturae (1725). In this work, he introduced his idea of three (?) main kingdoms created from the use of his classification system. His systema naturae was a continuous work that ended up in multiple volumes as the concepts of classification were modified with the growing number of species of plants and animals.

Scientific Thought[edit]

The scientific thinking of Linnaeus began with natural theology. Because of his religions beliefs, he believed that it was possible to find an understanding of God by looking at His creations. In part of Systema Naturae, he explained how he thought that the divine order of the creations of God would possibly be revealed by studying nature and its origins.

Linnaeus' love of botany brought his first taxonomic categories to be those of plants. He based each group of plants on the number and arrangement of the plant's reproductive organs. This did not work as well as Linnaeus planned because it created a system that was very unnatural in the sense that it did not compare many other similarities and differences that are important to categorizing plants. He first separated the plants into a large group (?), and then used smaller categories to further diversify the plants. He gave each plant two names which is the origin of binomial nomenclature. This form of classifying has been modified throughout the years and is still used today.

Binomial nomenclature consists of the two Latin names given to an organism. The first is the name of the genus to which the organism belongs, also referred to as the generic epithet. Genera are further divided into species, identified by the specific epithet (the second part of the name). The combination of these two category names creates the scientific name of organisms. Even though Linnaeus was not (?) the first to use the binomial naming system, he was the first to use it frequently enough for the system to be accepted and used more often by scientists everywhere.

Linnaeus' thoughts on evolution are very different from the modern day theories. He believed that species were immutable. Even thought Linnaeus believed in immutability, he did believe that the creation of new species was possible, but that it is limited. (?)

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