origins of systematics

Mon Mar 27 10:07:18 CST 1995

Henry Gleason had some interesting comments relating to the
'beginings' of taxonomy (Phytologia 4: 1-25):

                       The Concept of Kind
          In taxonomy, the first and most fundamental of all
     concepts is that of the existence of kinds of plants.
     Kinds were recognized long before the emergence of
     botany as a science.  Discorides and Theophrastus and
     Vergil wrote about them; scores of kinds are named in
     the Bible.  Even the first chapter of Genesis says "Let
     the earth bring forth the living creature after his
     kind."  They were known before language was committed
     to writing; all contemporary primitive races know them
     and have names for them.  They antedate the human race;
     certainly the monkeys distinguish kinds, eating the one
     and refusing the other.  They were distinguished at a
     still [earlier] level of animal evolution; the Zebra
     Swallowtail butterfly flits through our woods and
     deposits its eggs only on the Papaw.

The paper (Some Fundamental Concepts in Taxonomy) also has
additional remarks pertinent to the thread of binomial
nomenclature and similar, but not as eloquent as those of the
erudite Alphonse de Candolle.

Stephen Darbyshire.

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