Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Linnaeus, Carolus (Carl Von Linné)

Swedish botanist who instituted the system of binomial nomenclature still used by scientists today, e.g. Homo sapiens. By 1758 (Systema Naturae, tenth edition), Linnaeus and his students had described over 14,000 species of flora and fauna, which were arranged in a taxonomy to which were also ascribed various attributes such as immutability (fixity of species), the lack of successful hybridization, and the impossibility of extinction or later special creation of species. Linnaeus himself questioned some of these ideas later in his life, but his popular scheme had already become irreparably institutionalized. Linnaeus quartered humanity into varieties (varietas), each associated with specific physical characters, and attributed one of the four Galenic behavioral humors to each type: Homo sapiens europaeus was sanguine, Homo sapiens afer was bilious, Homo sapiens asiaticus was melancholic, and Homo sapiens americanus was choleric.

See Great Chain of Being.

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