Rethinking the origin of ‘species’

Linnaeus, botany, florilegium, Mrs Morgan's Florilegium

In the 250 years since Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus formalised the taxonomic method of naming species, there have been a number of discoveries which some argue mean a better definition is now required.

Originally, ‘species’ (meaning ‘kind’ or ‘sort’ in Latin) was used to refer to organisms that looked different. But identification through taxonomy is a bit of a dark art, relying on the opinion of one or a small number of experts. Such identifications are often highly contested.

Over the past few years there have been increasing calls for an overhaul of the Linnaen system.

Now, with the rise of a technique known as ‘DNA barcoding’, it’s easier than ever to determine the identity of and relationships between species. Read more here.

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