Introducing taxonomy

Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1776) simplified the naming of plants and animals to a binomial (two-part) system.

As new plants, animals and minerals were discovered throughout the 18th century, a system of formal organisation for the natural world became necessary. Linnaeus proposed:

  • a generic name, based on shared characteristics with similar organisms, followed by;
  • a specific name; a unique descriptor of the organism.

His system was universally adopted and is still used by scientists today. The Linnaeus collection contains his magnum opus, Systema Naturae, and other important literature by the scientist and his supporters.