How did Linnaeus help develop the modern system of taxonomy?

1 Answer
Nov 10, 2015

Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) is widely recognized as the father of taxonomy by coming up with a system to classify organisms into taxa (groups or categories).


From the bottom, species (a word Linnaeus invented), then genus, and up higher to family, order, class, and phylum, to mention a few.

His idea, called binomial nomenclature, entails two words (almost like a double-barrel surname, e.g. Shellman-Reeve) ascribing a Latinized or scientific name to any known and identifiable organism, like Canis familiaris for the domestic dog. Note that the genus is capitalized but the species not, and both are usually given in italics (de-italicized only in wholly italicized text) or underlined separately in handwritten texts.

When a species is uncertain, it can be abbreviated to Canis sp. (note that the latter part is not italicized). Once given in full, the genus can be abbreviated to the first capital letter, e.g. C. familiaris or C. lupus (wolf). Subspecies can be added to the name as a third word, e.g. C. familiaris indagator for a Pointer dog. Some taxonomists prefer C. lupus familiaris for dog, inclusive of all the breeds.