Carlos Linnaeus;Achievements,Facts And Biography

Carlos Linneo. . (In Swedish: Carl Nilsson Linæus, latinized as Carolus Linnæus , also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné ). Swedish botanist, naturalist and explorer. He was the first to create a uniform system for naming, ordering, and classifying living organisms, and his ideas have formed the basis of study for many generations of biologists. He is considered the father of the Taxonomy . Physician and student of the natural sciences.

Carlos Linnaeus

Biographical synthesis of Carlos Linnaeus

Born on 23 of maypole of 1707 in the town of Stenbrohult ( Smaland ) in southern Sweden , it was the first child of Nils Ingemarsson Linnaeus ( 1674 – 1748 ) and Christina Brodersonia ( 1688 – 1733 ).

Her father, Nils, was an amateur Botanist , a minister of Lutheranism, and the priest of the small town of Stenborohult , in Smaland . Her mother, Christina, was the daughter of Stenbrohult’s rector, Samuel Brodersonius .

Later, Carlos was born three daughters and another son, Samuel, who was finally assigned by his father as rector in Stenbrohult and would write a manual on Beekeeping . A year after the birth of Charles Linnaeus, his grandfather, Samuel Brodersonius , died , and his father, Nils, became the rector of Stenbrohult.

Thus, Linnaeus and his parents moved to the Rectory leaving the priest’s house where they had lived. Even in his early years Linnaeus seemed to show a particular attraction to plants and flowers. When he was worried or angry they gave him a flower and he immediately calmed down. Nils spent a lot of time in his Garden and often showed Flowers to Linnaeus, teaching him their names. Soon Linnaeus had his own parcel of land in his father’s garden where he could grow plants.

Carlos Linnaeus Childhood

His father began teaching Linnaeus Latin , Religion and Geography as a child, but when Linnaeus was seven years old he considered it better that he have an educator. His parents chose Johan Telander , the son of a local “husbonde” (a minor landowner). Telander was not appreciated by Linnaeus, who would later write in his autobiography that Telander “was better at extinguishing a child’s talent than developing it.”

Two years after teaching had begun he was sent to the Elementary Institute in Vaxjo. Linnaeus rarely studied, instead he often went to the field to look for plants. However, he managed to reach the last year of elementary school when he was fifteen, in 1717 . This course was taught by the elementary school principal, Daniel Lannerus , who was interested in Botany .

Lannerus realized Linnaeus’ interest in botany and taught him in his garden. He also introduced him to Johan Rothman , who was Smaland’s state doctor and professor at the Vaxjo Gym . Rothman, who was also a botanist at that time a doctor, deepened Linnaeus’ interest in botany and helped him develop an interest in medicine .

After having spent the last seven years in an institute, Linnaeus entered the Växjö Gymnasium in 1724 . The gym was primarily studying Theology , Greek , Hebrew, and Mathematics , a curriculum designed for someone who aspired to be a Priest .

In the last year in the gym, Nils, Carlos Linneo’s father, visited him to ask his teachers how Linneo’s studies were progressing, to his surprise most of them said that “Linnaeus would never be a good student”. However, Rothman was convinced and suggested that Linnaeus might have a future in medicine. Rothman also offered to house Linnaeus in Växjö and teach him physiology and botany. Nils accepted this offer.

University studies

Rothman showed Linnaeus that botany was a serious matter and not just entertainment. He taught Linnaeus to classify plants according to the Tournefort system. Linnaeus was also trained on the sexuality of plants according to Sébastien Vaillant . In 1727 Linnaeus, at the age of 21, enrolled at the University of Lund in Scania. Linnaeus was mentored and accommodated by local doctor Kilian Stobaeus . There he could use the Doctor’s Library , which had many Books on Botany , and had free access to the lectures that Stobaeus himself gave.. In his spare time, Linnaeus explored the flora of Scania together with students who shared the same interests.

Expedition to Lapland

On Linnaeus’ visit to his parents he explained his plan to travel to Lapland , a trip that Rudbeck had once made but the results had been destroyed in a fire in 1702 . Linnaeus’ hope was to find new plants, animals, and possibly valuable minerals. He was also curious about the customs of the native Sami , nomadic reindeer herders who roamed the great tundras of Scandinavia . In April 1732 Linnaeus was awarded a grant from the Uppsala Royal Society of Sciences to pay for the expedition.

Linnaeus began his journey on May 22 . He did it on foot and horse , taking with him his diary, botanical and ornithological manuscripts and leaves to herbalize plants. It took him 11 days to reach his first target, Umea, dismounting along the way to examine a flower or rock. He was especially interested in Mosses and Lichens , a major part of reindeer feeding, a common animal in Lapland . Later, he came to Gavle where he found large quantities of Campanula serpyllifolia a creeping and perennial plant that would become Linnaeus’ favorite, later renamed Boreal linnaea .

After being in Gavle, Linnaeus began traveling to Lycksele, a city off the coast further away than he had ever traveled before, examining ducks along the way. After five days he arrived in the city where he stayed with a Shepherd and his wife.

In early June he returned to Umea after spending a few days at Lycksele where he learned more about the Sami customs. From Umea he traveled north to the Scandinavian Mountains passing Old Lulea , where he received a Sami women’s hat. Crossed the Norwegian border at Sorfold about 300 km from Old Lulea

He later traveled to Kalix and in mid-September he began his return trip to Uppsala, traveling through Finland and taking the ship from Turku . October 10 arrived , in total a trip of six months duration and about 2,000 km where he gathered and observed innumerable amount of plants, birds and rocks .

Although Lapland was a region without much biodiversity Linnaeus found and described a hundred previously unknown plants. His later discoveries would form the basis of the book, Flora lapponica . In 1734 Linnaeus traveled to Dalarna leading a small group of students. The trip was funded by the Governor of Dalarna to catalog known natural resources and discover new ones, but also to collect it along with Norwegian mining activities in Roros.

Alderman of the University of Uppsala

In 1750 Linnaeus became rector of the University of Uppsala , beginning a period where the natural sciences were specifically appreciated . Perhaps Linnaeus’ most important contribution during his tenure at Uppsala was teaching; many of his students traveled to various parts of the world to collect botanical samples. Linnaeus called the best of these students “his Apostles.”

His lectures were normally very popular and were often held in the Botanical Garden . He was trying to teach students to think and trust no one, not even him. Even more popular than the lectures were the botanical excursions held every Saturday during the summer where Linnaeus and his students explored the flora and fauna in the vicinity of Uppsala.

Last years

Tomb of Carlos Linneo together with his son Carlos Linneo the Younger in the Cathedral of Uppsala.

Linnaeus was relieved of his duties at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1763 , but he continued his work normally for more than ten more years. In December 1772 Linnaeus resigned as rector at Uppsala University mainly because his health was beginning to decline.

Linnaeus’ last years were tough because of his health. He suffered a disease called Uppsala fever in 1764, which he survived thanks to Rosen’s care. He suffered from Sciatica in 1773 and the following year he had a stroke that would leave him partially paralyzed . In 1776 he suffered a second stroke that made him lose the use of his right side and affected his memory. Although he was still able to admire his own writings, he could not recognize that he was the author.


In December 1777 he had another stroke that profoundly weakened him, leading to his death on January 10 , 1778 in Hammarby . Despite his desire to be buried in Hammarby , he was buried in Uppsala Cathedral on January 22 .

His library and collections were left for his widow Sara and her children. Earlier, the English botanist Sir Joseph Banks wanted to buy the collection, but Carl refused to move it to Uppsala. However, when Carl died in 1783, Sara tried to sell the collection to the Banks, however, it was no longer interesting to them, although it was acquired by an acquaintance of hers. The buyer was James Edward Smith , a 24-year-old medical student, who took the entire collection: 14,000 plants, 3,198 insects, 1,564 shells, approximately 3,000 letters, and 1,600 books. Smith formed the Linnean Society of London five years later.

Publication of Carlos Linnaeus

Linnaeus published Philosophia Botanica in 1751 . The book contained a comprehensive study of the Taxonomy system that Linnaeus had been using in his previous works. It also contained information on how to write a travel journal and how to maintain a botanical garden.

In 1753 , Linnaeus published Species Plantarum , the work was internationally accepted as the beginning of the modern Botanical Nomenclature along with his earlier work Systema Naturae The book, which described over 7,300 species, had 1,200 pages and was published in two volumes. The same year he was knighted of the Order of the Pole Star by the King . Linnaeus was the first civilian in Sweden to become a knight of this order. Since then, the distinction rarely faded.

Main article

Linnaeus’ Taxonomy Linnaeus is considered the creator of the classification of living things or taxonomy. He developed a binomial Nomenclature system ( 1731 ) that would become a classic, based on the use of a first term, with the first letter written in capital letters, indicative of the genus and a second part, corresponding to the specific name of the described species, written in lowercase letter. On the other hand, it grouped the genres into Families , families into Classes and classes into Kingdoms .

Before his work there had already been attempts to introduce a certain order into the apparent confusion caused by the enormous proliferation of living beings. The first to attempt to establish a classification was JP de Tournefort ( 1656 – 1708 ) by introducing a natural classification system based on the objective reality of species, genera, and classes. Almost simultaneously John Ray wrote a monumental work, Historia plantarum generalis ( 1686 – 1704), in which he tried to distribute plants in a rational way and basically define precisely the notion of species through establishing its relations with a community of origin.

The works of Tournefort and John Ray were continued by Linnaeus’ initial investigations in the field of botany, which focused on the study of Stamens and pistils, and which led him to think that he could introduce a new and better classification of plants, based on the study of their reproductive system . However, considering only the character of the flower, the system, even in the author’s own opinion, was too artificial. This problem was solved with the introduction of the so-called binary classification, which he used to typify and classify more than 8,000 animal and 6,000 plant species.

He was also the first scientist to use the symbols of the shield and spear of Mars and the mirror of Venus to indicate, respectively, male ♂ and female ♀. His works earned him the award of a noble title in his country. The publication of his work “Plant Species” ( Species plantarum ) in 1753 is considered the official start of the application of the Modern Nomenclature in biology . Defender of the fijismo, immutability of the species and therefore contrary to the idea of ​​evolution, considered that all had been created separately in the beginning of time.

Philosophical vision of  Carlos Linnaeus

According to the German biologist Ernst Haeckel the question about the origin of man started with Linnaeus. He aided future research into the natural history of man by describing humans as any other plant or animal described. Linnaeus was the first to place humans in a biological classification system. He placed humans under Homo sapiens , among the Primates , in the first edition of the Systema Naturae .

During his stay at Hartecamp he had the opportunity to examine some monkeys, identifying some similarities between them and Man . noted that the two species basically have the same anatomy and found no other difference with the exception of speech. Therefore, he placed man and monkeys under the same category, Antromorpha , meaning “human form”.

This classification received criticism from other botanists such as Johan G. Wallerius and Jacob Theodor Klein who believed that humans could not be placed under the “human form” category. They were also concerned that he would catch up with the monkeys, lowering the man from a spiritually higher position. Classification as such also posed another problem for religious people.

The Bible says that man was Created in the image of God , if monkeys and humans were related it would be interpreted that monkeys also represented the image of God. This was something that few thought plausible.

After this criticism Linnaeus understood that he needed to explain himself more clearly. In the tenth edition of Systema Naturae introduces new terms including Mammalia and Primate , the latter replacing Antromorpha . The new classification received less criticism but many naturalist historians although they felt that the human being had degraded from his previous position in which he occupied a position of government of nature, instead of being a part of it.

But Linnaeus believed that man, biologically, belonged to the animal kingdom and should be so. In his book Diet Naturalis he said “One should not vent his anger on animals, theology decrees that man has a soul and that animals are mere mechanical automata, but I think it would be better to recommend that animals have souls and that the difference is the royalty”.

Linnaeus also added the entire human species within Systema Naturae as Homo troglodyte or caveman. Most of these new human species were based on myths or tales of people who claimed to have seen something similar to a human.

Most of these tales were scientifically accepted and in the first editions of Systema Naturae many mythical Animals were included such as the Hydra , Phoenix , Satyr and the Unicorn . Linnaeus put them under the category Paradox , according to the Swedish historian Gunnar Brobergen it was to offer a natural explanation and demystify the world of superstition.

An example of this is that Linnaeus was not satisfied with just classifying, but also trying to find out, for example, if Homo troglodyte really existed, so he asked the Swedish East India Trade Company to look for a copy. If they didn’t find it, at least get signs of its existence.

Brobergen believes that the new human species described by Linnaeus were in fact monkeys or native people dressed in furs to scare settlers, the occurrences of which had multiplied.

Main works   of Carlos Linnaeus

The date indicates the first edition:

  • Præludia sponsaliarum plantarum ( 1729).
  • Fundamenta botanica quae majorum operum prodromi instar theoriam scientiae botanices per breves aphorisms tradunt ( 1732).
  • Systema naturae ( 1735- 1770 ) [Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis], with 13 corrected and expanded editions.
  • Botanic foundation ( 1735).
  • Bibliotheca botanica ( 1736) [Bibliotheca botanica recensens books plus mille de plantis huc usque editos secundum systema auctorum naturale in classes, ordines, genera et species].
  • Botanical Criticism( 1736 ).
  • Generates plantarum (Ratio operis) ( 1737).
  • Corollarium generum plantarum ( 1737).
  • Flora lapponica ( 1737) [Flora lapponica exhibens plants per Lapponiam Crescentes, secundum Systema Sexuale Collectas in Itinere Impensis].
  • Ichthyologia ( 1738), in which he published the works of Peter Artedi .
  • Classes plantarum ( 1738), in Bibliotheca Augustana.
  • Hortus Cliffortiana ( 1738).
  • Philosophia botanica ( 1751).
  • Metamorphosis plantarum ( 1755).
  • Animalium specierum, Leyde: Haak, ( 1759).
  • Fundamentum fructificationis ( 1762).
  • Fructus esculenti ( 1763).
  • Fundamentorum botanicorum parts I and II ( 1768).
  • Fundamentorum botanicorum tomoi ( 1787).


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