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Although Carl Linnaeus passed way in 1778, the life and methods of this Prince of Botanists continues to inspire taxonomy. A visit to Uppsala Hammarby in Sweden, is an eye opener regarding his life and science. Linnaeus surrounded himself with “curios and curious” students. Though he seldom travelled abroad, he profusely networked with his peers which helped him to test and experiment his philosophies and also expand his understanding of the natural world. His Uppsala manor is still adorned with illustrations which continues to surprise botanists and naturalists alike. He and his family lived in the Hammarby with dead fishes and live monkeys. He raised many plants in his Hammarby garden and grove, some of whose later generations are still there. His Herbationes Upsalienses is probably one of the first recorded example of “citizen science” through which he not only inspired many young talents to pursue it as a career but also advance taxonomy. “Citizen science” can help Indian taxonomy to open up and trigger this image rich discipline.
Carl Linnaeus can inspire Indian taxonomy!
Gopakumar, S
Associate Professor, Department of Forest Management and Utilization, College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural
University, Thrissur, Kerala, India. Phone +91-487-2370050; 2371435 (R); Mobile 919447890860; email:
Although Carl Linnaeus passed way in 1778, the life and methods of this Prince of
Botanists continues to inspire taxonomy. A visit to Uppsala Hammarby in Sweden, is an
eye opener regarding his life and science. Linnaeus surrounded himself with “curios and
curious” students. Though he seldom travelled abroad, he profusely networked with his
peers which helped him to test and experiment his philosophies and also expand his
understanding of the natural world. His Uppsala manor is still adorned with illustrations
which continues to surprise botanists and naturalists alike. He and his family lived in the
Hammarby with dead fishes and live monkeys. He planted and studied many plants in
his Hammarby garden and grove. His Herbationes Upsalienses is probably one of the
first recorded examples of “citizen science” through which he not only inspired many
young talents to pursue it as a career but also advance taxonomy. “Citizen science” can
help Indian taxonomy to open up and trigger this image rich discipline.
Keywords: Carl Linnaeus, Uppsala Hammarby, Museum in altis, Linnaen Museum,
Linnaeus’ Garden
Carl Linnaeus: The life
For most botanists and naturalists, Linnaeus does not need any formal introduction, But
his life and legacy does. Carl Linnaeus (born Monday, 23
May, 1707, in Rashult, in the
province Smaland in southern Sweden) learned his first lessons in botany from his father,
Nicolaus Ingemarsson (Michael, 2008). At eight, Linnaeus was a popular” botanist of
the neighbourhood. After his elementary education, he went to Lund University in 1727
and from there to the University of Uppsala in 1728. Linn’s botanical capabilities
influenced the Royal (Swedish) Academy of Sciences which supported his historic
Lapland expeditions. It was during this journey (Michael, 2008), Linnaeus collected his
“signature flower”, the dainty twinflower, Linnaea borealis L. (F Caprifoliaceae).
Between 1735 and 1738, he also traveled abroad to Netherlands (took his doctoral degree
from Harderwyk), Denmark, Germany, England and France. In 1735, while in the
Netherlands, Linnaeus published the 1
edition of his Systema Naturae which had only
eleven pages (the 13th edition, published in 1770 had 3000 pages)! It was in the first
edition that Linn presented a new classification system for the three kingdoms viz.
animal, plant and the kingdom of rocks and minerals. After returning from his only
overseas visits ever, Linnaeus married Sara Elisabeth (Lisa) Moraea on 26
June 1739
(Goerke 1966; Michael, 2008). Finally, before his death on 10
January, 1778, he
authored many historical manuscripts that are now part of botanical lore.
Princeps botanicorum
Carl Linnaeus obviously had an obsession with order (Michael, 2008). It is widely
believed that he tried classifying everything around him, plants, animals, minerals,
diseases, and even colleagues! Linnaeus also had a failed experience with his single lens
Cuff microscope (Nyman and Nilsson, 2009). For Linnaeus, microorganisms remained a
blind spot (Ford, 2009).
The binominal nomenclature is commonly regarded the greatest achievement of Carl
Linnaeus (Michael, 2008) which he brought forth in Species Plantarum (1753). However,
there are views that Linnaeus neither invented two-word names nor did he establish them
in a single step (Stearn 1959; Heller 1964). Naming species by referring to a more
general concept and adding one word as a specific descriptor was in use since the ancient
times (Michael, 2008). He argues that what Linnaeus actually did was to elaborate a
universal nomenclatural method that was soon accepted by most of his contemporaries.
With his sexual system, Linnaeus, however established a high degree of aperspectival
objectivity in morphology (Vogt, 2008) that unfortunately has been lost subsequently.
Carl Linnaeus also produced many classifications (Fauna Svecica in 1746, Species
Plantarum in 1753, and again in 1758, the tenth edition of Systema Naturae (Animalia)
with 4376 species listed) which contributed extensively to the progress of biological
systematics. The methodology he elaborated through his classifications also became
equally famous (Jahn and Schmitt, 2001).
There is also evidence to believe that Linnaeus also actively networked with the
contemporary experts. Information needed for his writings are sourced through these
linkages. In 1760, he himself had listed around seventy-one correspondents, from Russia
and Turkey in the East to America in the West. It was in Latin that Linnaeus
corresponded with the foreign scholars. Incidentally, a source of knowledge of British
Indian plants for Linnaeus was Van Rheede’s Hortus Malabaricus (Nordenstam, 2009).
Linnaeus included 258 Malayalam names of plants from this book in his Species
Plantarum (Mohan Ram, 2003). He adopted many Malayalam plant names to coin
binomials directly or after Latinizing them. Some examples include Elettaria
cardamomum (L.) Maton (the lesser cardamom) and Areca catechu L. (the betel nut). The
works of Kaempfer, and C. Commelin, Merian, Plumier, Petiver, Sloane, and Rumpfis,
also provided iconotypes for many 1753 Linnaean binomials (Stearn, 1998). At the time
of his death in 1778, Linnaeus was in correspondence with more than 200 Swedes and
around 400 other nationals. Several of these letters are today accessible on the internet
(please see Linnaeus also maintained
professional affiliations. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of London (1753) and was
a member in the academy of St. Petersburg (1755). He also was one of the only eight
foreign members of the French Academy (1762). He was the President of Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences several times and was also the Secretary to the Uppsala Scientific
Society (1744). He was also an adviser to the Swedish royal family.
Uppsala Hammarby
In 1741 Linnaeus was appointed professor of Medicine at the University of Uppsala
(Michael, 2008). Uppsala is around 70 km north of Stockholm, which can be reached by
a train in about 50 minutes. In late 1758, at the age of 51, Linnaeus eventually purchased
two estates adjacent to Uppsala, namely Hammarby and Sävja. The estate at Hammarby,
located at four kilometers southeast of Uppsala, has one main building and two wings. He
built the main building, laid out the garden, the grove and planted the Siberian Crab
Apple (Malus baccata (L.) Borkh.) tree.
The main Uppsala Hammarby building is a two storey wooden house whose floorboards
of the first floor and all the walls are made of heavy wooden planks. Most of the rooms of
the manor have a fire place to fight the winter chillness. The rooms on the ground floor
houses a modest collection of Sara Lisa and Linn’s personal articles. The attire worn by
Linnaeus while he obtained his doctors’ degree in Holland is in display there. Also in
display are some chinaware, probably gifted to him by some of his travelling apostles. In
Linn's private lecture hall at his Uppsala Hammarby, a replica of Linn’s lectern along
with a few wooden benches is retained to create his classroom ambiance.
Through a wooden winding stairway, one can reach the upper floor and step on to the
study room of Linnaeus. The wall is wall-papered with beautiful and clear illustrations
and descriptions of various plant species, which even now looks amazing. These
illustrations are probably from Plumier´s Plantarum Aamericanarum, a botanical treatise
on West Indies (Nordenstam, 2009). The drawings perhaps also reflects Linnaeus’s eye
for the details of the specimens he collected or was brought to his attention. It is also said
that the plates from which the wallpaper was made were actually the proofs for books
that had been sent to Linnaeus for classification and naming. The Swedish botanist Karin
Martinsson has studied the engravings closely and determined that they are, in fact, taken
from a number of botanical works. It is said that he loved his magnificent wallpaper and
proudly showed it to all of his visiting guests.
The walls also had portraits of his daughters. There was also a drawing of whale, a few
monkeys and a picture of the “coat of arms” of Linnaeus. This room leads to another
small room, perhaps, his bedroom, which unfortunately is kept out of bounds. Through
the dim lights, I saw the walls, which too displayed another valuable set of illustrations.
One reason why Linnaeus bought Hammarby was his desire to have his own personal
collection away from the official trappings. While he lived here, Linnaeus had planted at
least one hundred species around the Hammarby manor (Manktelow and Kenneth, 2004).
In the front of the main building at Hammarby, there is still a healthy collection of
different plant species. Among the plants introduced by Linnaeus to Hammarby were
Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris L.) Hazelwort (Asarum europaeum L.), Pride of Ohio
(Dodecatheon media Greene), Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes Opiz), Barrenwort
(Epimedium alpinum L.) and Russian Belladonna (Scopolia carniolica Jacq.). The
subsequent generations or representatives of some of the species planted by Linnaeus are
still there. The most famous plant in this collection, which is planted by the Hammarby
doorstep itself, is Linaria vulgaris L. (formerly Peloria). This plant had caught the
imagination of Linnaeus who noticed that it had a differently built flower. This
arrangement was contrary to his concept that genera and species had universally arisen
through an act of original creation and remained unchanged since then (Gustafsson,
1979). So he called it Peloria”, monster. Iris variegate L., Leibnitzia anandria (L.)
Turcz., Jovibarba globifera (L.) J.Parn. (hen-and-chickens houseleek) and Alcea rosea L
(Stockros or Common Hollyhock) are still there in the front yard of Uppsala Hammarby.
Linnaeus was as much a working physician, agriculturalist and land surveyor as he was a
taxonomist (Reid, 2009). This seemed to be very true.
Outside the Hammarby house, there is a small grove where Linnaeus used to sit and
smoke his pipe. Among many plants here, the dog’s mercury (Mercurialis perennis L.),
the plant pictured on the Swedish hundred kronor currency note is an interesting species.
As a student, it was through this plant that Linnaeus gave a new dimension to the sex life
of plants.
Keep alive in your own day the grove I have planted, and if any trees be lost, plant others
in their place-thus requested Linnaeus to Sara Lisa. This inscription is displayed in the
grove. The grove now has a number of large trees like Ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) Maple
(Acer platanoides L.) and Elm (Ulmus glabra Huds.). In the dense undergrowth, one can
notice an aromatic plant called sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata Scop.) which was
originally planted by Linnaeus.
Two hundred meters across the grove stands the personal museum (Museum in altis) built
and maintained by Linnaeus himself on May 21, 1769. His intention was to keep his
valuable collections out of the reach of fire. Linnaeus was very much afraid of fire
destroying his collections. The great Uppsala fire of 1702 in which his professor, Olof
Rudbeck the Elder saw much of his life’s work go up in smoke was always in his
memory. Later in 1766, a fire in Uppsala destroyed a third of the town. These infernos
prompted Linn to be very cautious with his collections. A small granite building with a
conical roof, the Museum in altis now houses only a very few articles. Inside there was a
herbarium and insect cabinets, his plugghasten(lectern) and a few wooden benches.
The most interesting exhibit in the Museum in altis was a model of a large fish which
hung from the ceiling.
There is also a huge boulder placed strategically atop a slope in the Hammarby estate. It
was a large Runes stone. It was a practice among scholars of that era to have texts carved
in runes. The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to
write various Germanic languages in the 1
or 2
century AD before the adoption of the
Latin alphabet. In the runes stone at Hammarby was an inscription: Sir Carl Linnaeus
purchased Hammarby in 1758
A different teaching style
During summer, Linnaeus received and taught many students in the Uppsala Hammarby.
As a teacher, he invented novel ways to inspire his students to look at and understand
nature. In his classrooms, he always presented living materials to his students. His study
tours around Uppsala, called as Herbationes Upsalienses, set a new example of teaching.
Linnaeus usually walked all the way from Uppsala University to Hammarby with around
150 students in tow. In these trips, the professor and the students examined the flora
together. It is said that they collected not just plants but also animals and rocks.
Occasionally they would stop to rest and the students with the most unusual collections
will be lucky to be seated close to Linnaeus. God created, but Linnaeus organized, yes,
but this would not have been fully possible without his Uppsala Hammarby (Gopakumar,
The professor and his collections are no more
In the morning of January 10, 1778, Linnaeus died at his home in Uppsala and was buried
on January 22, in Uppsala Cathedral. A large elm that had been growing on his
Hammarby was reportedly cut down to make his coffin. He was buried in the tomb he
had bought already in 1745, and it was immediately sealed. It is said that the farmers
from Hammarby and Sävja carried his coffin to his grave in Uppsala Cathedral.
In September 1784 (after Carl von Linné the younger’s death in 1783), Linnaeus’
collections-his herbarium of 14,000 plant specimens, fish (168), his shell (1564) and
insect collections of nearly 3,198 specimens, and his library of 1,600 volumes was
purchased by an Englishman, Mr. James Edward Smith for £1088.5s. In 1788, Smith
founded the Linnaean Society of London, to further spread the Linnaean system. When
he died in 1828, the Linnaean Society raised funds and purchased the collections from
Smith’s widow.
What we can learn?
We can very confidently say that Linnaeus was central to the development of systematics
and taxonomy (Godfray 2007). Current global investigations and mapping of biodiversity
is a continuum of his legacy (Per Sjogren-Gulve et al., 2007). Since Linnaeus, the
estimates of global species diversity have increased almost exponentially. Linnaeus’s
science and methods still remains relevant and decisive for biodiversity conservation. But
ironically, there is still a clear lack of comprehension about how many extant species
exist in nature (Erwin, 1982; Dobson et al, 2008). As many had remarked many times
over, will we ever achieve a secure estimate of extant species before they become extinct?
Despite the urgency to conserve the remaining biological diversity, identifying,
classifying and naming of species continues to proceed at a slow and uneven rate
(Dobson et al, 2008). Nonetheless, a number of never-before capacity building efforts in
taxonomy has also taken place over the last 20 years (Janzen, 1994; Smith and Rogo,
2005). Unfortunately, in India, taxonomy continues to be considered a “lesser science”
and is often cold-shouldered in funding competitions. This is despite our status as
biologically wealthy nation and also our commitment to conserve our remaining diversity
as per many international treatises and obligations.
Linnaeus's Uppsala Hammarby and his methods indicates that the fault is partly with our
approach. In the times of Linnaeus, taxonomy was a fledgling discipline. Like him, the
opportunity for Indian taxonomy lies in harnessing the energy, time and skills of the
innumerable number of para-taxonomists and other amateur naturalists located across our
great country. Taxonomy in India must shed the traditional image and become a more
popular science.
To survive, and to do so with elan, Indian taxonomy must do what Linnaeus did; create
an “army of naturalists” from all interested in the subject, ignoring their basic trainings.
How much of our understanding of “Floral diagrams and Floral formulae” are actually
getting translated as new discoveries? The Botanical Survey of India and other taxonomy
institutions and departments must encourage scenarios that will help the emergence of
“citizen science” in Indian taxonomy. Let us rope in our para-taxonomists and other
amateur naturalists who can help us in generating raw, new data. What is the current
status of the All India Coordinated Project in Plant Taxonomy and similar initiatives?
What is the possibility of reviewing and re-modelling them and including other
institutions and researchers outside the MOEF-BSI-traditional universities ambit?
Meanwhile, the Indian Association for Angiosperm Taxonomy (IAAT) must develop and
submit a proposal to the government for launching more wider and larger networked
projects focusing on several plant groups. The All India Network Project models of the
Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) system is a good example to follow.
Probably, we must also admit that we have to alter the ways we currently teach taxonomy
in our colleges and universities. Let us copy the interesting aspects of Linnaeus “open-air
classrooms” and make it more exciting and challenging and foster them as recruitment
grounds of our future taxonomists. It was through these classrooms, Linnaeus developed
his nomenclature concept and other discoveries. It was also in this “open” environment
that his students could train their observational skills and progressed from novices to
naturalists (Hanna, 2010). Let us also do it. Simultaneously, let us also open up our
taxonomic research centers and departments and allow the “citizen scientists” to work
and interact freely with those who know “floral diagrams and formulae” and contribute to
our cause.
Otherwise, this captivating and image-rich discipline will continue to remain as tax-on-
me in one of top ten species rich nation of the world.
Some of the photographs of my visit to the Linnaean sites can be viewed at
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Erwin T. L. 1982. Tropical forests: their richness in Coleoptera and other arthropod
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Ford, Brian J. 2009. The microscope of Linnaeus and his blind spot. The Microscope,
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Goerke, H. 1966. Carl von Linn. Arzt – Naturforscher – Systematiker. Wissenschaftliche
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Full-text available
Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) was the pioneering tax- onomist of the 18th century. His microscope survives along with the collections at his former residence in Sweden, though little has been known about it. The instrument is here described and its performance is demonstrated. Curiously, Linnaeus showed little in- terest in, or knowledge of, microscopic organisms. Very few of his drawings portrayed minute struc- tures and examples of those that survive are de- scribed. We also review Linnaeus's little known book- let on microorganisms.
Full-text available
Morphology has fundamental problems regarding aperspectival objectivity of its data—morphological terminology is often based on homology assumptions, lacks standardization, and has problems with comparability, reproducibility, and transparency. This is astonishing given that with his sexual system Linnaeus had already established a high degree of aperspectival objectivity in morphology that unfortunately has been lost subsequently. In the first part of the article a brief introduction to the history of classification is given that provides an answer to the question why morphology only initially has been gripped by the general trend towards objectification that started in the seventeenth century. The conceptual shortcomings of Aristotle’s concept of essences and its link to the definition of species and taxa in natural philosophy play an important part in this development. The only solution to the problem of essences was to link it to the evolutionary concept of homology, which explains why morphological terminology today often rests on homology assumptions. By taking a closer look at Linnaeus’ sexual system, basic principles for developing a general structure concept for morphology are discussed, which would provide the conceptual basis for establishing a high degree of aperspectival objectivity for morphological data. The article concludes with discussing the role of data bases and ontologies for developing a data standard in morphology. A brief introduction to the basic principles of Resource Description Framework (RDF) ontologies is given. A morphological ontology has high potential for establishing a general morphological structure concept if it is developed on grounds of the following principles: morphological terms and concepts must be defined taxon-independently, homology-free, preferably purely anatomically, and if functionally only by clearly indicating the trait’s active participation in a specific biological process.
Linnaeus had the bold ambition to describe the world's total flora and fauna. To achieve these goals he utilized all available literature and natural science collections, including his own extensive herbarium and ever increasing botanical garden. He also developed an international network with more than 600 correspondents all over the civilized world. Furthermore, he encouraged and engaged his students as collectors and explorers, in Sweden as well as abroad. Those seventeen young men who ventured outside Europe are known as the Linnaean apostles. Among them are Tämström, Adler, Toren and Osbeck, who all travelled to the Far East with the Swedish East India Company, and Thunberg, who went to South Africa and Japan with the Dutch East India Company. Kalm travelled in North America, Rolander and Löfling in South America, Falck in Russia, and Hasselquist and Forsskål in the Near East, Egypt and Arabia. Solander and Sparrman became famous as members of Captain Cook's circumnavigations. The information gathered from all the various sources were synthesized in the Systema naturae. Species plantarum and Systema vegetabilium, which were continuously amended and published in various editions during Linnaeus's lifetime and continued by others after his death in 1778.
Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) made his first acquaintance with a tropical flora about 1744 when studying a large collection of herbarium specimens and drawings made in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) by Paul Hermann, and on these he based his "Flora Zeylanica" (1747). Otherwise, down to the publication of the Species plantarum (1753), his knowledge of tropical plants was based on a limited number in cultivation and on a large number of illustrations in the works of Kaempfer, van Rheede, J. and C. Commelin, Merian, Plumier, Petiver, Sloane, and Rumpfis, but relatively little on herbarium material. These works provide iconotypes for many 1753 Linnaean binomials. In 1758 Linnaeus bought Patrick Browne's Jamaican herbarium. He also received specimens from former students visiting tropical countries. Long before then European trading activities had dispersed some ruderal plants from port to port, making them almost pantropical. Collections often contained specimens of these. Hence Linnaeus tended to regard the tropical floras as rather uniform over the world instead of regionally very diverse. Nevertheless he devised a methodology and a nomenclature fundamental for the later development of tropical botany.
AT a time when botany is being pursued at a reductionist level, it is refreshing that an enlightened Indian taxon omist has presented to the scientific world, the English edition of a precious work published in A msterdam more than three centuries ago. This work contains a wealth of i nfor- mation on the plants of Malabar (at present the state of Kerala) that has remained largely inaccess ible to the vast majority of scholars because the entire text was wri tten in Latin. Devoting over 35 years of intense labour to his task, K. S. Manilal has translated with high f idelity the entire text of Hortus Malabaricus (Malabar Garden) run- ning into 12 volumes (1595 pages of double folio size) and containing illustrations and d escriptions of 742 plants. The complete original title of the work is Hortus Malabaricus, continens Regni Malabarici apud Indos celeberrimi omnis generis Plantas rariores. Written in appreciation of Manilal's extraordinary achievement, the purpose of this article is to acquaint readers with the original work which deals with the traditional knowledge of the people of Malabar on useful plants, as well as their immense biological value today. The original work in Latin Considered to be the most comprehensive printed work on the natural wealth of Asia and of the tropics, Hortus Malabaricus was compiled and published between 1678 and 1693 by Hendrik Adriaan Van Rheede tot Draakenstein (Van Rheede hereafter), the then Dutch Governor of Cochin. Mentioned in these volumes are plants of the Malabar r e- gion (which stretches from Goa to Kanyak umari, about 900 km in length and varying from 74 to 200 km in width). The work describes plants with multiple uses as well as with medicinal properties. It i ncludes modes of pre- paration and application, based on pre -Ayurvedic knowl- edge of the ancient, renowned, hereditary phys icians of Malabar. The ethno-medical information presented in Hortus Malabaricus was culled from palm leaf manu- scripts by Itty Achuden, a famous physician of Malabar at that time. He dictated the material in Malay alam, which was then scrutinized by three Konkani gymnosophist priest-physicians (referred to in the text as 'brahmins') - Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit and Appu Bhat, followed by a process of thorough verification, di scussion with other scholars and general agreement. The final draft was translated into Portuguese by the official interpreters of
Carl Linnaeus' Life When on Monday, 23rd of May, 1707, in Ršshult (in the province Smšland in southern Sweden) the first child of the curate at Stenbrohult, Nicolaus (Nils) Inge-marsson Linnaeus, and his wife Christina Brodersonia was born, nobody could imagine that this boy, Carl Linnaeus, would become the most prominent Swedish naturalist of all times. His father cultivated in his small garden not only vegetables and fruit but also ornamen-tal plants, the names of which he explained to his son – several times, as Linnaeus reports in his autobiogra-phy (Vita III: 90f.), until he became impatient and an-nounced no longer to explain anything if the son would not finally keep the names in mind. This threat ob-viously helped: from then on young Carl memorised these names and knew already the names of all the plants bordering the way to his school town Våxjae (some 20 km) when he went to school there. He had to commute several times per year and lived at Våxjae in a boarding house. He was not a splendid pupil at all, but one of his teachers realised his outstanding interest and knowledge in botany and convinced Carl's father to al-low his son to study medicine instead of theology as it was the original idea – much to the grief of his mother. Carl Linnaeus entered Lund University in 1727 but moved to the University of Uppsala in fall of 1728 be-cause he expected better teaching and a better equipped library there (which did not hold true in the end). Soon Olof Celsius the Older (1670–1756, uncle of Anders Celsius, 1701–1744, after which the centigrade ther-mometer scale is named) became his mentor. Since his outstanding knowledge and botanical capabilities were recognised by Olof Celsius and other influential figures in Uppsala's scientific community, he was assigned by the Royal Academy of Sciences to travel to Lapland in order to explore the natural resources. This journey lasted for five months in 1732 and extended (according to Blunt 2001: 71) over 4500 km. Linnaeus reported on this expedition in his Iter lapponicum (published first in English as Lachesis lapponica, and only in 1888 in Swedish). During a further journey to Dalarna in 1734, he met in Falun his later wife, Sara Elisabeth (Lisa) Moraea (1716–1806), the daughter of the wealthy town physician Johannes Moraeus (1672–1742) and his wife Elisabeth Hansdotter (1691–1789). He and Sara Lisa engaged, but agreed that he should go abroad in order to receive a doctorate. Thus, he travelled to the Nether-lands, where he arrived at Harderwijk in the province of Gelderland on 17 th of June, 1735, enrolled at the University on 18 th of June and submitted his – already completed – thesis, and received his degree on 23 rd of June. In his thesis, he treated a new hypothesis of the intermittent fever (vulgo Malaria), which did not hold true until present. Subsequently he worked at the
The system of binomial nomenclature and wider taxonomic paradigm forged by Carolus Linnaeus in the 18th century came from his original approach to understanding the natural world. It was also a product of environmental, economic, social, cultural, political and theological influences of the time. For Linnaeus the identification, naming and classification of different kinds of animals, plants, diseases, fossils and rocks had practical as well as theoretical importance. In his life and work he clearly demonstrates the 'scientific approach' including careful information gathering, exploration, empiricism, dissection, accurate observations and published descriptions. There is an inspirational use of morphological characters in comparative diagnoses, a requirement for material evidence to support hypotheses and the systematic and hierarchical organisation of knowledge. However, techniques for specimen preservation and analysis were limited and sample sizes too small to properly characterise wild populations. Thus he bequeathed artificial and 'typological' more than biological concepts determined by form and pattern rather than process. Species and genera were regarded as fixed, objective entities. This is sometimes associated with the supposedly stultifying effects of Aristotelian essentialism on Linnaean and later taxonomy. 'Natural' classification, as far as developed, was not phyletic but, instead, reflected Wolffianism, a modified creationist doctrine. Nonetheless, Linnaeus was the first to formally recognise the close affinity between humans and primates, a controversial idea later fully developed by Charles Darwin. Even so, Linnaeus did not always distinguish between mythological versus real creatures and incredible versus credible hypotheses. His understanding of 'cause and effect' was circumscribed by prevailing Lutheran theology and Cartesian mechanistic philosophy. Linnaeus was as much a working physician, agriculturalist and land surveyor as he was a taxonomist. Contemporary economic biology and biotechnology are anticipated in his animal and plant breeding and pearl culturing experiments. In the great body of Linnaeus' letters, manuscripts and books are discernable foundations for many other later disciplines. These include: anthropology, biogeography, bioinformatics, biomechanics, biological control, conservation, ecology, epidemiology, Darwinian evolution, ethnography, medical diagnostics, microbiology, palaeontology, pharmacology and phylogenetic systematics.
Linnaeus expressed his fascination for microscopy in his work Mundum Invisibilem 1767 (the invisible world), which was one of the very first attempts to bring light and order to the microscopic discoveries of the time. Linnaeus wrote about his only microscopic experiment in the same publication. He wanted to know where to place the fungi in his grand ‘Systema Naturae’, but misinterpreted the results of the experiment completely. This is perhaps one of Linnaeus’ greatest and least known mistakes, but one that somehow boosted development anyway. We took the original microscope models used by Linnaeus, took photos, and compared them with images obtained with modern instruments. Our experiments revealed several new findings, and let us understand why Linnaeus made his mistake. One other finding is that Linnaeus must have used the most modern and advanced compound microscope of his time, a large Cuff microscope in his experiment. Only two large microscopes by Cuff were available in Sweden by the time. A large Cuff microscope was found in Sweden lately. This microscope is probably the actual instrument that Linnaeus used.
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