Ut Sit Memoria - a perspective of the classification and the naming of living things

Pearn, John H. (2007). Ut Sit Memoria - a perspective of the classification and the naming of living things. In: Array, Dundee, Scotland, (1-25). 5-8 September 2007.

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Author Pearn, John H.
Title of paper Ut Sit Memoria - a perspective of the classification and the naming of living things
Conference name Array
Conference location Dundee, Scotland
Conference dates 5-8 September 2007
Place of Publication not found
Publisher not found
Publication Year 2007
Year available 2010
ISBN not found
Start page 1
End page 25
Total pages 25
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Science depends on classification and classification depends on names. Humankind has an instinct to collect and to classify; and the paradigms of taxonomy have become ubiquitous not only in science, but in all fields of human endeavour. Linnaeus (1707-1778), and the system of binomial nomenclature which he invented to give an ordered name and place to all living things, occupies a pivotal datum point in the history of biological science. The Tercentenary of his birth, in 2007, has been a catalyst to focus on the development of taxonomic approaches to generate new knowledge about all life forms. Linnaeus' taxonomy occupies a datum point at the end of a chronological chain of scientific endeavour to classify living things, with links forged by Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) Cesalpini (1519-1603), John Ray (1627-1705) and Grew (1641-1712). After Linnaeus, the challenge of optimising a system of classification continued to be developed by de Jussieu (1748-1836) and Cuvier (1769-1832); and in the twentieth century, by Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), Copeland (1902-1968) and R.H. Whittaker (1924-1980). The Linnean taxonomy of 1758, published in the Tenth Edition of Systema Naturae, established ranks within the two biological Kingdoms of Animaliae and Plantae. Developed in the pre-Darwinian era, its outline could not have defined or illuminated relationships between the classes, genera, species or even sub-species which Linnaeus described. Without the concept of common or shared ancestries, the Linnean system could not illuminate hierarchies or relationships. The later Darwinian paradigm led to a reinterpretation and modification of the Linnean model. Ultimately, scientists make subjective judgements about the discriminators they use to define specific groups, whether such be species, genera or even Kingdoms. Some of these discriminators are binary and therefore qualitative; and some (like the brain volume of primates) are arbitrarily chosen points along a continuum of quantitative variability. Many taxonomists have come to regard DNA patterning, made possible following the discovery of restriction enzymes in 1974, as the most fundamental discriminator to define taxons and specific groups within them. This has strengthened the claim of cladistics, or classification by descent from common ancestors, to be developed as an alternative taxonomic approach. The ethos of science is constantly to challenge established wisdom, usually received wisdom. In the domain of taxonomy this challenge continues, as it did in Linnaeus' time.
Subjects 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
210304 Biography
210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified
069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
Keyword Carl Linnaeus
Additional Notes An invited plenary address in the tercentenary year of the birth of carl linnaeus (1707-1778).

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Created: Wed, 31 Mar 2010, 09:35:52 EST by Ms Marianne Sato on behalf of Herston Health Sciences Library