historical figures in evolution

Evolution Before Darwin: Carl von Linné


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Carl von Linné (1707-1778)

Carl von Linné (Linnaeus in English), a Swedish naturalist, was the first to attempt in 1735 a naming system of species in the Western world. He used a binomial or two-name system to recognize each animal and plant species. Though being a creationist, he realized that all species had several anatomical similarities. This system is still in use today. The first name is the genus to which several different species belong. The second name refers to the proper name of the species. The first letter of the genus is always capitalized in writing while that of the species is not. Genera are in turn grouped into major categories: family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom.

Consider three species as an example: Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, and Homo habilis. Homo sapiens means “wise man” and it is the species to which we all humans belong. The other two species, Homo erectus (upright man) and Homo habilis (handy man), are extinct hominid species very well known from the remains of all the individuals found in the last decades in Africa and Asia. These three species are hominids belonging to the genus Homo, and each keeps its particular name. The genus Homo belongs to the Hominidae family, Primate order, Mammalia class, Chordata phylum and Animalia kingdom.

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