Uppsala universitet
Skip links
På svenska

Linné on line arrow Plants and Animals arrow Linnaeus and the animals

Linnaeus and the animals


The racoon named “Sjupp”, a gift to Linnaeus from Crown Prince Adolf Fredrik.
  Linnaeus was fascinated by how all species were depending on each other in coexistence in nature, especially the animals and their behaviour. “Without the animals the earth would be like dead, but now the dogs hunt the hare, the gadfly the ox, the falcon the dove, the grebe the fish, the stork the snakes, the eagles the chickens, and everything moves quickly.”

In his botanical garden Linnaeus not only grew plants but he also kept different animals. Some were exotic, like monkeys and racoons, but he also had several tamed Swedish birds. In addition to the living animals he had a large collection of stuffed animals and animals kept in alcohol for research and teaching purposes.

In Systema Naturae Linnaeus made a classification of the three kingdoms. For the anmal kingdom he mainly followed the system from 1693 made by the British scientist John Ray, but made some important additions. Linnaeus’ friend Peter Artedi helped Linnaeus with the classification of fishes and some other animals while Linnaeus was, among other things, working with mammals, birds and insects.

The classification of mammals contained many important changes. Linnaeus based his mammal classification on the animals’ teeth instead of on their feet as previous. He also acknowledged the suckling of the young as being typical for the group, which lead to the fact that Linnaeus was the first scientist to refer both whales and bats to the mammals. Earlier they had been referred to fishes and birds, respectively.