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The Name Game

223971102_2fa6202dd1_m.jpg Yesterday marked the tercentenary of Carl Linnaeus's birth (May 23, 1707). A medical doctor and botanist, Linnaeus is remembered as the so-called "Father of Taxonomy," because he was one of the first scientists to consistently apply binomial names to life. In other words, Linnaeus is at the root of why every living thing on Earth is classified by a genus and species name—including Homo sapiens. The Wired website has a bunch of interesting features in celebration of Linnaeus's tercentenary, and in examination of the legacy of his work. For example:

He was one of the first to try to scientifically classify humans into different races or species according to place of origin and skin color, placing white Europeans at the top of the heap. He also insisted that creatures like the troglodyte, satyr, hydra and phoenix were real, humanlike creatures.
There's also some discussion of the need for different biological classification systems, such as the Phylogenetic code. It's a pretty fascinating examination of how we classify information about ourselves and the world around us.

Organizing the World in the Age of DNA
What's in a Name? The Future of Life (This link includes a demonstration of an interactive browser that visualizes the taxonomic system.)
Order is in the Eye of the Tagger

Flickr photo by tico_bassie.


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