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Systema Naturae


The book Systema naturae was one of the major works of the Swedish doctor of medicine Carolus Linnaeus. Its full title is Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis or translated: "System of nature through the three kingdoms of nature, according to classes, orders, genera and species, with [generic] characters, [specific] differences, synonyms, places").

The tenth edition of this book is considered the starting point of zoological nomenclature.


Linnaeus published the Systema Naturae in the year 1735, during his stay in the Netherlands. As customary for the scientific literature of its day, the book was published in Latin. In it, he outlines his ideas for the hierarchical classification of the natural world, dividing it into the animal kingdom (Regnum animale), the plant kingdom (Regnum vegetabile) and the "mineral kingdom" (Regnum lapideum).

The classification of the plant kingdom in the book was not a natural one, but of convenience: it followed Linnaeus' new sexual system where species with the same number of stamens were treated in the same group. Linnaeus believed that he was classifying God's creation and was not trying to express evolutionary relationships. The classification of animals was more natural. For instance, humans were for the first time placed together with other primates (as Anthropomorpha).

In view of the popularity of the work Linnaeus kept publishing new and ever expanding editions, growing from eleven pages in the first edition (1735) to three thousand pages in the final and thirteenth edition (1770). Also, as the work progressed he made changes: In the first edition whales were erroneously classified as fishes; in the 10th edition, published in 1758, the whales were moved to the mammals. In this same edition he introduced two part names (see binomen) for animal species, something he had done for plant species (see binary name) in the 1753 publication of Species Plantarum.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Systema_Naturae". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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