[Taxacom] Linnaeus' first insect = wrong question

Thompson, Chris Chris.Thompson at ARS.USDA.GOV
Tue Jan 29 08:29:20 CST 2008


The problem is WHAT is your definition of Linnaeus' first insect?

In Systema Naturae, 10th Edition, the official start of Zoological
Nomenclature, Linnaeus has 191 species of flies. 

So, which is the FIRST fly?

To me that is a dumb question as they are ALL FIRST by definition. What
the public needs to know is that Linnaeus was aware of many different
kinds of flies. So ... 

What is more important are the kinds of flies that Linnaeus knew.

The most curious in respect to history, is Musca cellaris, described on
page 597. Today this name is forgotten due to the fear of geneticists
who don't want to recognize the fact that Linnaeus knew Drosophila
melanogaster (Meigen 1830). Linneaus loved wine and beer, and described
the little flies which are attracted to fermented fruits as Musca
cellaris, the fly of the wine cellars. Later Kirby and Spence put this
species in its own genus, Oinopota (from the Greek for wine drinker). So
by the Official rules of Nomenclature (ICZN) Linnaeus never knew
Drosophila nor the species was unknown to the authors of the first text
in Entomology. But ...

I think it is these kinds of stories that the public will like more than
just an arbitrarily declaring that Linnaeus' first fly was Oestrus bovis
(cattle bot) simply because it is the first fly listed in Systema
Naturae (page 584).

For the record, the first insect listed in Systema Naturae, 10th
Edition, is Scarabaeus Hercules (Hercules Beetle) on page 345.

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution MRC-0169
PO Box 37012
Washington, D. C. 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 fax
www.diptera.org Diptera Website
-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Shorthouse,
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 7:56 AM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Linnaeus' first insect



I have been navigating ZooBank's presentation of Systema naturae (via
Biodiversity Heritage Library and University Library of Goettingen) on
hunt for the very first insect Linnaeus described. Though this service
really cool, I am growing impatient because it is a bit slow for such a
quick tidbit of trivia. Can someone who knows this bit of trivia send it




David P. Shorthouse
Encyclopedia of Life - WorkBench
MBL, Woods Hole, MA
mailto:dshorthouse at eol.org


Taxacom mailing list
Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

More information about the Taxacom mailing list