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Title page of a 1760 edition of Linnaeus's Systema Naturae.
Linnaeus's table of the Animal Kingdom from the first edition of Systema Naturae (1735).

The book Systema Naturae was one of the major works of the Swedishmarker botanist, zoologist and physician Carolus Linnaeus. The first edition was published in 1735. 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, or "Carl Von Linné" which is his full swedish name, published the Systema Naturae in the year 1735, during his stay in the Netherlandsmarker. 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 expandingeditions, growing from eleven pages in the first edition (1735) to three thousand pages in the final and thirteenth edition (1767). Also, as the work progressed he made changes: In the first edition whales were classified as fishes, following the work of Linnaeus' friend and "father of ichthyology" Peter Artedi; in the 10th edition, published in 1758, whales were moved into the mammal class. 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.


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