Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy birthday to binomial nomenclature

According to The Writer's Almanac [and why would they lie to me?], today was the birthday of Carolus -- or Carl in his native Swedish -- Linnaeus. He's the guy who concocted the scientific system of naming things -- two names, a genus and a species name, and sometimes a subspecies tag on it. Like Homo sapiens for humans. We're the only current member of the genus Homo, and the sapiens part means something like 'knowing.' The system saves the confusion that arises from local names for plants and animals. A Crotalus atrox here is a Crotalus atrox there. I had a wonderful biology teacher in high school, took two years of it and learned many things that are still with me. He's the first person I ever heard use the word 'ecology.' I am indebted to him these many years later.

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