[Taxacom] Linnaeus' first insect = wrong question

David Shorthouse dshorthouse at eol.org
Tue Jan 29 09:41:50 CST 2008


Indeed, it was a dumbly phrased question because there was no context. I
wasn't interested in the "first" insect to be described...they are all
"firsts" by definition...and nor am I interested in telling stories to the
public (at this stage). Rather, I was interested in the first insect to
appear on the pages in Systema naturae because I want to come up with a
clever though somewhat obtuse name for a piece of work.


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

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Thompson, Chris [mailto:Chris.Thompson at ARS.USDA.GOV]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 8:29 AM
> To: Shorthouse, David; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Linnaeus' first insect = wrong question
> David:
> 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

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