[Taxacom] Homo sapiens

Laurent Raty l.raty at skynet.be
Thu Jan 14 17:37:26 CST 2016

"Nosce Te ipsum" (Recognise Yourself) is addressed to the reader, and 
appears to imply that *this reader* is a member of the taxon. This says 
absolutely nothing about what Linnaeus thought of his own status.

This is certainly disputable, but the word "ferus" in the margin not 
being followed by any number/letter is an unmatched case in Linnaeus' 
1758 work I think, and I'd tend not to read this as introducing any 
"named variant"; but rather as meaning something like "in a wild state", 
applying to Homo sapiens. Thus:

 > HOMO. (=HUMAN) Recognise yourself. (*)
 > Sapiens. (=Wise)  1. Diurnal man, which varies with culture and locality.
 > In a wild state.     Goes on all four, mute, hirsute.

The six references that follow are to descriptions of "feral children" 
-- all from Europe. And indeed, would anybody ever attempt to separate 
feral children taxonomically from the rest of the species...? In my 
reading, these are all explicitly declared members of Homo sapiens sensu 
strictiore, definitely part of the type series, and a holotype can 
certainly not be assumed for the taxon. OTOH, even though it may seem 
reasonable to infer it, if I base myself strictly on what is written in 
the book, I actually see no way to be positively certain that Linnaeus 
included himself in the taxon. His names appears nowhere, and he wrote 
nothing in the first person. He's quite clearly saying *me* that *I* 
must be a man but, had he been, or considered himself, an 
extraterrestrial or a God, he arguably might have written exactly the 
same words.

Note that--althought it may not be clear if you're not comfortable with 
Latin, and the formatting is somewhat misleading--the whole text, 
starting on p.22 with "Habitat inter Tropicos sponte gratisque; per 
relictam Telluris totam continentem coacte" ("Lives between the tropics 
spontaneously and freely; through the rest of the Earth's entire 
continent in communities"), up to the introduction of H. Troglodytes on 
p.24, concerns the species as a whole as well, and not any varietas. 
Hence the description goes far beyond the couple of lines that occurs on 
p.20, before the var. [alpha]. Americanus.

Cheers, Laurent -

On 01/14/2016 09:27 PM, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> Actually, on second thoughts, it is entirely unclear/indeterminate what Linnaeus intended (see http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/726909).
> The problem is that he clearly named and numbered two species of Homo, i.e.
> (1) Homo sapiens;
> (2) Homo troglodytes;
> But although variants Homo sapiens americanus etc. got "numbered" with an alpha symbol, etc., Homo sapiens ferus (if that is what he meant) did not get so numbered, so what are we to make of it? The description suggests a diurnal cultural variant with tetrapod locomotion, being both mute and hairy! Does sound like some people we know, admittedly!
> The phrase "nofce Te ipfum" occurs before mention of species or variants, and appears to translate to "know thyself". This does suggest that Linnaeus was including himself in the *genus*, but no mention of that under either of the two species.
> I don't see any room for a nominotypical subspecies, unless one ignores the term 'ferus', but then the description of the nominotypical subspecies becomes a diurnal cultural variant with tetrapod locomotion, being both mute and hairy! Note that this contrasts with H. troglodytes which is stated to be nocturnal.
> All in all, one big mess which probably doesn't need sorting out.
> Stephen

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