Systema Naturae

Sjupp dSjupp

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) was born the eldest son of parish priest, and amateur botanist, Nils Ingermarsson Linnaeus, and Christina Linnaea.
The family name ‘Linnaeus’ was chosen by Nils as a requirement for enrolling at university, and was based on the Swedish for lime tree (lind) in honour of a large lime tree that grew on their land.
Linnaeus’s brother Samuel became an expert on bees.
Although expected to follow his father into the priesthood, Linnaeus showed a keen interest in medicine and botany.

In 1746/7, Crown Prince Adolf Fredrik gave Linnaeus a raccoon (Procyon lotor), known as Sjupp, to describe.
In a paper published for the Royal Academy of Science in 1747 Linnaeus described Sjupp as ‘…tremendously obstinate. If anyone led him on a rope and tugged at it, he would immediately lie down and throw his arms and legs about defiantly…’ and noted Sjupp’s preference for ‘…eggs, almonds, raisins, sugared cakes, sugar and fruit of every kind…’ and his dislike of ‘…anything with vinegar on it, or sauerkraut, or raw or boiled fish’.
He had a watercolor of Sjupp hung in his summerhouse.

: The Compleat Naturalist
by Wilfrid Blunt
Wilfrid Blunt was Senior Drawing Master at Eton College. An Associate of the Royal College of Art and a fellow of the Linnean Society of London, he authored a number of biographies and books on European art and botany. His The Art of Botanical Illustration has become a standard work of reference. He died in 1987.
William Stearn’s appendix on Linnean classification provides a concise survey of the basics necessary for understanding Linnaeus’s work.

Linnaeus was of pivotal importance in the Age of Enlightenment. Though an adventurous traveler, keen collector, zoologist, and geologist, he loved botany most of all. The son of a pastor, he believed he was chosen by God to resolve the jumbled classification of the natural world. Through his Systema Naturae, first published in 1735, he brought order to all recorded knowledge about living things, distinguishing and naming 7,700 plants and 4,400 animals in his lifetime.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for this information!

    • You are very welcome—-
      It sounds like a wonderful biography. The details of those mythic lives are irresistible.
      I’m grateful to have some people to share them with.

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