‘Linnaeus more influential than Jesus or Hitler’

This video about biology is called Carolus Linnaeus and Modern Taxonomy.

From New Scientist:

Jesus and Hitler beaten in Wikipedia influence list

18:00 10 June 2014 by Jacob Aron

Move over, Jesus. Step aside, Hitler. Neither of you has got anything on Carl Linnaeus, inventor of the scientific naming scheme for plants and animals, who has been crowned the most influential person in history. An analysis of links within Wikipedia articles by Young-Ho Eom of the University of Toulouse, France, and colleagues gave Linnaeus the title after they used the Google PageRank algorithm to come up with their list.

Google uses this algorithm to count the number of incoming links to a webpage, because pages that are linked to by a lot of other sites are likely to be important. Eom applied the algorithm to 24 separate language editions of Wikipedia to see if different cultures rated different historical figures as the most important.

Linnaeus topped the chart across all languages because there are so many Wikipedia pages with scientific names in every edition, and they all eventually lead back to him. Looking at just the English edition, the top three were Napoleon, Barack Obama and Linnaeus.

Of course, what works to show a webpage’s influence doesn’t necessarily apply to how influential a person is, so the team also tried another algorithm called 2DRank, which counts both incoming and outgoing links. That spat out Adolf Hitler, Michael Jackson and Madonna as the most important across all languages, and Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and Pope Pius XII in just English.

The team also looked at how the number of important people is spaced throughout history. Most people in their lists were born after the 17th century, in line with the general rise of global population, but there are spikes in the 5th and 1st century BC thanks to ancient Greek scholars, Roman leaders and Christian figures.

A previous PageRank analysis run in 2010 opted for Jesus, Napoleon and William Shakespeare, but because Wikipedia is constantly evolving, it is no surprise that the list has changed. Eom’s team has posted their full list for each language online if you want to see where your favourite historical figure ended up.

Journal reference: arXiv, arxiv.org/abs/1405.7183

Parakeets and greenfinches in the botanical garden

This is a greenfinch video.

Today, it is winter.

In the city, much of yesterday’s snow has succumbed to freezing, thawing, cars, bicycles or pedestrians.

Still, especially in gardens and on trees, still snow. And treacherous icy spots on roads.

Blackbird male, botanical garden, 8 December 2012

In the botanical garden, a male blackbird looks for food between the snow.

One of the biggest and oldest trees in the botanical garden is a Taxus baccata L. Its name in English is European yew tree.

The L. behind the Latin name means this is a special tree species. The L. stands for Carolus Linnaeus, the famous eighteenth century Swedish naturalist. Linnaeus designed the scientific names system for living organisms still in use now. But Linnaeus named only a small minority of species known today. The European yew tree is one species of that special minority.

Linnaeus visited this botanical garden in the eighteenth century. Did he see this tree, then a lot smaller, and did it inspire him to give its species a name?

I don’t know the exact age of this specimen, I don’t know whether it already was there in the eighteenth century. But I can certainly see it is old, and much taller than average yew trees.

Ring-necked parakeet female, botanical garden, 8 December 2012

The big yew tree has many red berries. They attract many birds. Blackbirds. Song thrushes. Ring-necked parakeets (see the female on the two photos).

Ring-necked parakeet female, yew tree, botanical garden, 8 December 2012

A collared pigeon.

There is ice on the canal. The ice is still thin. A passing passenger boat breaks it, pushing it aside. No need of an icebreaker for that yet.

The small pond near the source of the brook is frozen. So is the big carp pond, where the brook flows into. The brook itself is not frozen, it streams.

A group of six great cormorants flying overhead.

Greenfinches, botanical garden, 8 December 2012

In the rose garden, two greenfinches.

In the smaller yew trees in the garden of the old university library, not so many birds today.

Botany, economy and art, exhibition

On Saturday 3 November, I went to an exhibition in Leiden, in the Museum Boerhaave, the Dutch National Museum for the History of Science and Medicine.

This is a Dutch video about that exhibition.

The museum’s Internet site says about the exhibition:

Exhibition Leyden’s luxuriance, Green Discoveries in the Golden Age

Until 6 May 2013

The advances made in science in the seventeenth century are often associated with discoveries in the fields of astronomy and physics. But the real Big Science at the time was natural history: no other branch of knowledge attracted so many investments, engaged so many people or caused so much circulation of information and objects across international networks.

Yet there is a paradox about this. Biology was not an official major subject at universities in the seventeenth century. Botany was considered an ancillary subsidiary subject of the study of medicine.

Early eighteenth century Leiden Professor Boerhaave, after whom the museum is named, knew much about botany, but was primarily a medic. Famous Swedish naturalist Linnaeus studied under Boerhaave then. Though far more interested in botany than in patients, to get an academic degree, Linnaeus had to become a doctor of medicine.

Even still a century later, famous biologist Charles Darwin at university did not study biology, but medicine and theology.

The exhibition does not limit itself to the seventeenth century. It also shows sixteenth century herbaria and books about plants. It continues into the eighteenth century, when Linnaeus was in Leiden and its surroundings.

In the Dutch Republic, botany especially was booming business: people spent enormous amounts of time and money collecting, studying and classifying plants. Botanical gardens were set up at both universities and country estates, lovers of flora exchanged letters recording their observations and experiences, artists specialized in depicting plants and publishers brought out sumptuously illustrated works in large format. The main focus of attention was on the new plants reaching Dutch cities and towns as a result of growing international trade: the tulip from Turkey, the potato from South America, ginger from Asia and Aloe vera from Africa. The number of known species of plants

that is, known in western Europe; where in the Middle Ages only the plants of that region itself had been known

rapidly climbed from about 500 in 1550 to well over 7,000 around 1700.

Botany, trade and culture

Leyden’s Luxuriance makes abundantly clear that the rise and flowering of botany was closely related to developments in trade and culture. The increase in botanical knowledge was not the work of a few isolated scholars, but rather the result of full-scale collaboration between physicians, apothecaries, merchants, members of the gentry and the magistrate, gardeners and artists. Although interests might range from searching for new medicines or merchandise to emending the classical texts or simply displaying one’s wealth by owning a beautiful garden, all lovers of flora were united in their passion for exotic plants. They not only found each other, they also needed each other in order to study, possess and understand this valuable and unique material. The love of botany went hand in hand with a curiosity about exotic nature, the search for wealth and a passion for tangible beauty.

This fascinating chapter of Dutch history brings together a few familiar elements of the Golden Age: the flourishing of science, the numerous international trade contacts, the wealth and tastes of a new urban elite, the rise of the bulb-growing industry, the importance of owning a garden as a status symbol and the popularity of new artistic genres like the still life with flowers. In making this complex story both accessible and engrossing, a key role has been awarded to Leiden, home not only to the Republic’s first university and first botanical garden, but also to renowned botanists, publishers, garden owners and artists, who all worked closely together to bring about green discoveries.

Newly discovered species, a summary

From Arizona State University in the USA:


Insects top latest inventory of newly discovered species

Annual ‘State of Observed Species’ report released by International Institute for Species Exploration

TEMPE, Ariz. – More than half of the 19,232 species newly known to science in 2009, the most recent calendar year of compilation, were insects – 9,738 or 50.6 percent – according to the 2011 State of Observed Species (SOS) report released Jan. 18 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.

The second largest group in the 2009 numbers was vascular plants, totaling 2,184 or 11.3 percent. Of the 19,232 in the total count, seven were birds, 41 were mammals and 1,487 were arachnids – spiders and mites.

And, according to this latest report, there was a 5.6 percent increase in new living species discovered in 2009, compared to 2008.

The annual SOS report card on the status of human knowledge of Earth’s species summarizes what is known about global flora and fauna. The 19,232 species described as “new” or newly discovered during calendar year 2009 represent about twice as many species as were known in the lifetime of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who initiated the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications more than 250 years ago, said the report’s author, Quentin Wheeler, an ASU entomologist and founding director of the species institute.

“The cumulative knowledge of species since 1758 when Linnaeus was alive is nearly 2 million, but much remains to be done,” Wheeler said. “A reasonable guess is that 10 million additional plant and animal species await discovery by scientists and amateur species explorers.”

Additionally, recent macrogenomic surveys of DNA from terrestrial and marine environments have revealed “enormous and previously unsuspected levels of genetic diversity that corresponds in some not-yet-understood way to species diversity,” explained Wheeler.

“It has been speculated, for example, that marine microbial species alone could number 20 million,” he said.

With those staggering numbers as a backdrop, statistics, or “species bites,” from the latest report note that:

Almost 24 percent of the new vascular plant species discovered in 2009 were in the monocot order Asparagales, which includes orchids, hyacinths, irises, daffodils, amaryllis, allium, aloe and, of course, asparagus.

Year to year, the largest order of newly discovered insects is the beetles, and, 2009 was no exception. Overall, 3,485 new beetle species (Coleoptera) were officially described including rove beetles (568), ground beetles (421), long-horned beetles (369), leaf beetles (356) and scarabs (288).

Only 41 new living mammal species were officially described in 2009 and of those, 83 percent were either bats (44 percent) or rodents (39 percent).

Almost 90 percent (133) of the new living amphibian species described in 2009 were frogs.

There was almost five times more fossil bird species (34) newly described in 2009 than living birds (seven).

Typical of most years, the largest number of new fish species was in the order Perciformes and 29 percent of those were in the families Gobiidae (22) and Cichlidae (11). Gobies include some of the tiniest fish on Earth, and the cichlids include some of the most popular aquarium fish, including the angelfish and damselfish.

Of the 626 newly described living crustacean species, 224 (31.8 percent) were in the order Decapoda, which includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp.

The Colubridae is the largest family of snakes and in 2009, almost 65 percent of the newly described living snakes were colubrids. In addition to 31 new snakes, new reptile species (living) included 38 lizards, 29 geckos, 12 iguanas, five chameleons and two turtles.

More than 13 percent of the new fungus species (living) described in 2009 were gilled mushrooms in the order Agaricales (178). Of the mushrooms, more than one-fifth (21.3 percent) were in the family Marasmiaceae, which includes shiitake mushrooms.

In addition to the living species discovered during 2009, there were 1,905 fossil species, with insects and spiders accounting for 25.6 percent.

See also here.

Linnaeus and Ethiopian wildlife

This video is called Wildlife in Ethiopia.

From the Daily Monitor in Ethiopia:

Ethiopia: The Quest for Species Continues – So Does Extinction

B. Mezgebu

12 March 2009


Addis Abeba — When in the 18th century, a Swedish botanist by the name of Carl Linnaeus traveled in the world and having got hold of various species, 10,000 approximately, he gave each one of them a name, comprising two words actually, he thought he had found every species that lived in the world. He also named the one species closest to him Homo sapiens.

Linnaeus, a distinguished scientist by any measure was, however, far off the mark. Other scientists who followed in his footsteps left no stones unturned, literally, to find and name new plants or animals. They drilled into the earth’s crust searching for microbes, dived to oceans to search for living things in ocean vents and probed for life on other planets. It’s now believed there may be 30 million species all in all.

The quest continues. Anybody can find new species; you just have to beat about the bush. In fact, a few rich people who have wads of money to spare can now have a species named after them, even if the species in hand is the size of a dot. A long way off from the vanity of wanting a whole street named after you.

30 million sounds a mind-boggling number indeed, especially to urbanites today. Think of the average person in Addis. He rarely travels out of town. The kind and number of living things he encounters all his life are actually very limited. He or she might come in daily contact with a few plants or animals. On the main it will be livestock and a few species of trees and shrubs, which we most of us hardly notice anyway. So imagining that we live side by side with other 30 million living things does not come that easily.

Incidentally, I would like to mention here that zoos plug the gap in this aspect to some extant. To young people, therefore, who may have no chance of seeing a wild zebra in the flesh, observing it in a zoo would be the next good thing.

Commonly, most of us believe (some certainly don’t) human beings are the top dog. In other words, we are by right at the top of the food chain, and that we have been created for a special purpose. Braininess is our specialty, obviously. It helps us manipulate things here on earth. Come to think of it, it is good that the rest of living things don’t posses that power, otherwise we might have manipulated each other to extinction. In any case our capacity to manipulate the rest of nature might have been excessively used in some instances.

Having said that, Homo sapiens has been quite proficient at seeing to it that other species don’t outnumber him. Or outlast him, for that matter. How else can you explain the following: It is believed that the country’s wealth in fauna was enormous at some distant past. Now we Ethiopians have done a heck of good job killing off the wildlife that not only do we fall behind countries like Kenya in the kind and number of animals, but that our tourist industry survives because of history, and not because of nature.

Take the geographical forest cover in the country that is supposed to have been standing in the past or at a time when people started doing some counting. 40 percent of the country was graced by that stretch of verdant lay of the land. Today, despite some petty arguments as to whether the existing forest is this percentage or that percentage point higher, the rural landscape is for all intents and purposes, heavily deforested. Everything inside the forests, fauna and flora, is gone too.

Saving the Ethiopian wolf in face of habitat loss, diseased dogs, and climate change, an interview with Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, founder of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme: here.

Gladiolus balensis Goldblatt is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. This plant is endemic to Ethiopia and thus far has only been collected in two locations. It grows in basaltic rocky areas which have now become largely cultivated or, in some areas, left fallow for grazing. This plant grows to about 55 cm in height, bearing a corm of about 20 mm in diameter, and has a very narrow altitudinal range of about 1,700-1,900 metres above sea level: here.

June 2011: An international conservation project has brought together botanists and scientists from Middle East and North Africa in an unprecedented bid to secure the future of the region’s wildlife: here.

New manta ray species discovered

This is a video of a manta ray, recorded during a night in Bora Bora.

From Wildlife Extra:

Manta Rays are two distinct species

Save our seas foundation marine biologist Andrea Marshall discovers a new manta ray species

July 2008. A second, and even possibly a third, species of manta ray has been discovered in the World’s oceans. This is the biggest news to date to come out of ray research, and its importance is the marine equivalent of discovering an unknown species of elephant. The discovery however, has implications that go far beyond the breaking news of scientific journals, as it will deeply affect real world conservation ideas and policies.

For the past five years the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) has sponsored Andrea Marshall, a PhD marine biologist in a quest to make advances in the scientific knowledge of these winged beauties of the sea, whose large triangular pectoral fins can span almost 8m in width and whose weight can reach over 2000kg. Manta rays, which are totally harmless and do not possess a stinging barb, are the largest of over 500 different species of rays and skates, and although divers have noted variations in physical appearance they were previously believed to be the same kind.

After suspecting the existence of a second species Andrea began studying other populations across the globe. Through genetic and morphological analysis she confirmed that there is indeed a second, and possibly a third, species of manta ray that exists across temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. The two species have mainly overlapping distributions, but their lifestyles differ greatly; one is migratory and the other is resident to particular areas along the coast. Other differences between the two species lie in their colour, skin texture, reproductive biology, and the presence of a non-functioning type of sting on the tail of one of the species.

‘Residential’ Manta Rays – at risk

The smaller, more commonly known manta ray resides in the same areas year round and is often encountered at coral reefs where they congregate to be cleaned by parasite-eating fish in locations such as Hawaii, the Maldives, Mozambique, Australia, Japan and the Island of Yap. Due to their residential nature they face a grave threat from unsustainable fisheries, as other manta rays will not replace a dwindling population, making their regional extinction a likely possibility.

Migratory Manta rays

Much less is known about the larger species, as it appears to be more migratory and elusive, shying away from divers rather than seeking interaction as its smaller cousin often does. Andrea has only ever witnessed it arriving at sea-mounts or at particularly productive areas along the coastline to feed on plankton before disappearing into the blue once again. Little is known about its behaviour or migratory patterns, though it appears to be targeted heavily by fisheries, particularly in Southeast Asia, where thousands are killed each year.

The once secret life of a huge, recently discovered species of manta ray has been unveiled: here.

While new names are added to marine species lists, some others have to go:

July 2007. Census of Marine Life-affiliated scientists consolidating world databases of ocean organisms have demoted to alias status almost one-third of all names culled from 34 regional and highly specialized inventories.

The new World Register of Marine Species (www.marinespecies.org) contains about 122,500 validated marine species names (experts having recognized and tidied up some 56,400 aliases – 32% of all names reviewed). It also contains some 5,600 images, hyperlinks to taxonomic literature and other information. …

56 names for the same species!

Some species, such as those reclassified in years past based on new information, were shown to have a handful of names or more. In such cases, the oldest name trumps later ones to become the valid name (though all aliases are noted to help researchers interpret centuries of scientific literature).

Popularly called Breadcrumb Sponge, Halichondria panicea is the marine world’s reigning champion of Latin aliases, with 56 synonyms appearing in taxonomic literature since its first description in 1766. Of no fixed address, it’s known to frequent floats, pilings, and the underside of rocks, smells like exploded gunpowder and takes on many appearances (as shown in photos). It is also known as (AKA): Alcyonium manusdiaboli (1794), Spongia compacta (1806), Halichondria albescens (1818), Seriatula seriata (1826), Hymeniacidon brettii (1866), Pellina bibula (1870), Amorphina appendiculata (1875), Isodictya crassa (1882), Microciona tumulosa (1882), Menanetia minchini (1896), Trachyopsilla glaberrima (1931) and 44 other names.


No researcher’s work is spared – not even Carl Linnaeus, who in the 1750s overcame an international scientific Tower of Babel when it came to naming species. He instituted the two-word Latin name, starting with the (capitalized) genus, followed by a (lowercase) specific epithet, a system used ever since. Thanks to his method of binominal nomenclature, what is dubbed a bulot in French fish markets, whelk in New England, buccin in Canada, and the Wellhornschnecke of the North Sea, is known universally to scientists as Buccinum undatum.

However, over time it emerged that Linnaeus assigned four names to the same species of sperm whale, a mistake caught years ago but which still appears in world literature and databases. The World Register will clarify for all time the valid name for that whale and all other marine species for future researchers, census takers and educators alike.

Waste in the Maldives: here.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Manta Rays Leap 9ft Out of Water Into the Air: here.

July 2010: Dr Andrea Marshall – known as Queen of the Mantas from the BBC’s 2009 documentary film – has attached a satellite tag to a giant four metre manta ray off the coast of South America: here.

Manta and mobula rays are ecotourism gold, but fishing to feed the traditional Chinese medicine trade is threatening both groups, according to a new report published jointly by conservation organisations Shark Savers and WildAid: here.

Manta Rays Fate Worse Than Sharks: here.

Victory! Alibaba.com Stops Selling Manta Ray Products: here.

First satellite tag study for manta rays reveals habits and hidden journeys of ocean giants: here.

February 2013. Delegates to the CITES conference in Bangkok have the opportunity to stem the trade in manta ray parts, specifically gill-rakers, and protect vulnerable manta populations. Charismatic manta rays can generate tens of millions of dollars annually through ecotourism if the destructive trade in their gill-rakers is stemmed say proponents: here.

USA: torpedo ray beaches.

North Sea rays: here.

Biology and classification in the museum

This is a Dutch video about the natural history museum.

As I said, the exhibition on biology and classification in the museum starts with the seventeenth century, and the eighteenth century of Linnaeus and Buffon.

It ends with new developments in subjects like DNA research, which also led to the museum finding out some clouded leopards in their collection were in fact Bornean clouded leopards, recently discovered to be a separate species.

In between, many interesting points on animals.

The oldest holotype animal in the collection of the museum is from 1758.

It was described by Linnaeus himself, though he saw only a drawing of the animal, not the stuffed animal itself.

It is a gray four-eyed opossum from Latin America.

Linnaeus’ name is still behind this species’ name. However, between (brackets); as Linnaeus put this opossum in the genus Didelphis, while later science did not do that any more; though it still is in the family Didelphimorphia.

Another holotype at this exhibition is from Madagascar.

It is a Northern Giant Mouse Lemur (Mirza zaza).

The animal had been in a formaldehyde bottle in the museum for a long time, before it was discovered in 2005 that it was a separate species.

When new animal species are discovered, they are often called after people whom the discoverers know.

In this way, there were six animal species exhibited, named after Willem Vervoort, former director of the museum.

They are a soft coral, Dendronephtya vervoorti; another soft coral, Sindonia vervoorti; a candy coral, Distichopora vervoorti; sea firs, Eudendrium vervoorti; a copepod, Pseudochiella vervoorti; and a jewel damselfly, Watuwila vervoorti.

Of the estimated five thousand parasitic wasp species in the Netherlands, almost three thousand are present in the museum. Most are smaller than three millimeter; the ones exhibited here were bigger species.

The museum has a big collection of plant and animal fossils from the Carboniferous age. In the coal mines which used to be in Limburg province, 75,000 fossils were found. Including insect wings.

Recently, in 2003, an insect which had been considered extinct, was re-discovered in Zuid Holland province: the chequered history diving beetle Graphoderus bilineatus; see also here. This species depends on unpolluted water.

The classification of life: From Aristotle to Woese: here.

Linnaeus, Buffon, and classification in biology

This video from the Philippines is called Linnaeus 300 years in Manila part I.

At the natural history museum, the biggest of three exhibits now is about classification in biology.

In the seventeenth century in Europe, people who could afford them often had cabinets of curiosity: rooms or chests of drawers with antique or pseudo antique coins, art objects, and natural objects, to impress visitors.

During the “Enlightenment” in the eighteenth century, the idea arose there should be systematic order in those collections. Natural objects were separated from human made objects in special collections, eventually giving rise to natural history museums.

In this, the “System of nature” by Carolus Linnaeus, dividing plants and animals into classes, orders, and species with binomial Latin names, helped.

As Linnaeus was born three hundred years ago, the classification exhibition is to remember him.

And also to remember another important biologist, born in the same year 1707: Frenchman Buffon.

Buffon was in many respects different from, and a rival to, Linnaeus.

Buffon had a more “dynamic” approach to nature and its species, while Linnaeus’ was more “static”.

Buffon defined a species as: if there is interbreeding with a different species, then offspring will be unable to procreate itself. A definition still often used today.

Against Linnaeus’ System of Nature, Buffon and his supporters said that nature did not have a system.

In the systemic part of the botanical garden, there is now a sculpture of Linnaeus; but also plant beds and signs indicating that DNA and other recent research have found that many plants which Linnaeus and later botanists thought were related, are not related; while plants they thought were unrelated, are in fact related.

However, Linnaeus’ idea of one Latin genus name plus one species name still stands.

It made things much easier for biologists since pre-Linnaeus times, when about every author about nature promoted his own nomenclature.

Linnaeus’ system implies various species are related.

He did not draw the conclusion from this that species may evolve from common ancestors (which would have upset many eighteenth century Christian believers; Linnaeus was one himself).

That would mainly be done by nineteenth century scientists like Charles Darwin (see also here).

Still, one might say Linnaeus played a part in preparing the ground for the idea of evolution.

One might say Buffon prepared the ground here even more. More skeptic on religion than Linnaeus, he strove to refute the ideas of biblical literalist “creationist” eighteenth century “Diluvians” like Scheuchzer, who believed that the earth was only a few thousand years old, and fossils were the results of the biblical deluge.

Buffon had an experiment with a hot iron ball, which he let cool off till it was normal temperature. He calculated from this that the earth was certainly older than the six thousand or something years calculated from the bible; seventy-five thousand years, Buffon said. So, still far shorter than in later science, but in the right direction compared to his contemporaries.

Supporters of Buffon and Linnaeus clashed also during the French revolution. Somewhat paradoxically, contrary to what one might expect of political revolutionaries being more attracted to Buffon’s dynamic theories than to Linnaeus’ ‘conservative’ ones, that was not the case.

One of the paradoxes of biology in the eighteenth century, when Voltaire, often considered a paragon of the Enlightenment, refused to believe in fossils; while the “creationist” Scheuchzer did. Though getting both the species and age of Andrias scheuchzeri wrong, Scheuchzer’s questionable work did give an impetus to the rise of palaeontology.

In 1911 the discovery that the world was billions of years old changed our view of the world for ever: read article here.

Carl Linnaeus Invented The Index Card: here.

Baby axolotls and Linnaeus

This video shows an axolotl being fed.

Apart from the moth research, many other things were happening during the 21 June night in the botanical garden.

Like pondskaters in the brook.

Like a choir singing in Swedish to honour that Linnaeus was born 300 years ago; Linnaeus, who in 1737 advised on expanding this botanical garden.

While they sang, ring-necked parakeets flew overhead, calling.

Later, swifts would call.

In one of the three aquariums in the hothouses, thirty baby axolotls had hatched from the eggs.

Will Linnaeus’ classification of animals and plants change?

Carolus LinnaeusFrom Wired Science:

A New Taxonomy Tries to Change an Ancient System

By Kristen Philipkoski

May 23, 2007

Kevin de Queiroz, a zoologist and curator at the Smithsonian‘s National Museum of Natural History backs a movement to change the way we name species.

I quoted him in a story on Carolus Linnaeus, who’s 300th birthday would have been today.

But I couldn’t fit in all of the interesting stuff he had to say, so here it is:

I am part of the group that is putting together the PhyloCode. Whether it’s supposed to replace the “Linnaean System” depends on what you mean by that.

We are NOT proposing to replace Linnaeus’s classification/taxonomy—that’s been happening for hundreds of years.

Some of Linnaeus’s groups, or taxa, have survived just fine ( e.g., Mammalia), others have not (e.g., most of his classes of plants).

The PhyloCode also is NOT proposing to eliminate the taxonomic ranks (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, etc.), which stem largely from the work of Linnaeus (though there are some supporters of the PhyloCode who also advocate what may be called “rank-free taxonomy,” which does propose to eliminate the ranks).

Nor are we proposing to eliminate binomial species names.

What we ARE proposing to do is replace the rules governing the names of clades (groups of species that share an exclusive common ancestry).