Carl Linnaeus, the Man of Many Names

Scientia and Veritas

The history of science is full of interesting characters, and Carl Linnaeus certainly fits the bill. Known as the father of modern taxonomy, he was born in Sweden on May 23rd, 1707. He was only the second generation of the name Linnaeus. In fact, when his father enrolled in school he was required to take a family name (instead of using the patronymic name Ingemarsson) and he chose Linnaeus after a giant linden tree that grew on his family homestead. With a name like that, Carl seemed to be destined for biological greatness.

Linnaeus showed an interest in botany from a very young age. His father, an amateur botanist, encouraged his son’s enthusiasm. When he enrolled at the Lund University in 1727, he knew that botany was a very serious subject. He registered under the name ‘Carolus Linnæus’, the latinized form of his name. He later would use this form…

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