What’s in a name? A history of taxonomy


In the mid-1700s a young Swedish doctor, Carl Linnaeus, started looking for a system in nature. In the course of his work, he did two critically important things for the development of taxonomy.

The first was to invent ‘the sexual system’ – a means of categorising all plants according to the number of stamens (the male parts) and the number of pistils (the female parts), presented in his seminal work Systema Naturae in 1735.

The second was to establish ‘binomial nomenclature’ as the standard for naming species when in 1753 he published Species Plantarum – a list, organised according to the sexual system, of all the plants known to him at that time.

Via nhm.ac.uk

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