Saturday, April 02, 2011

Before there were species

Very interesting article about the problem of naturalists in the days before Linnaeus (and the Internet). How would an Englishman, for example, discuss a particular animal by correspondence with a Russian when there was no scientifically precise way to make sure they were talking about the same animal? Well, they told each other to go to encyclopedias that existed in both countries and look up a reference (folio X, page Y). According to the author here, this fostered the practice of actually sending specimens back and forth and accounted for a good deal of progress before the Father of Taxonomy got everyone organized.

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