Carl Linnaeus

From the list of elephant persons Family: Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus
Carl  Linnaeus
Portrait of Linnaeus by Alexander Roslin
Personal details
Country Sweden

Title biologist
Location at The Royal Society of Sciences at Uppsala in Sweden

Biography details

Carl Linnaeus , taxonomy zoologist in Sweden

Born 1707-05-23 in Sweden dead 1778-01-10 .

Affiliation with 1 elephants

1: Sebas pickled elephant (from 1753 to 1753)

Hej Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomial Nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms.

He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus (after 1761 Carolus a Linné).

Carl Linnaeus also named the elephant in 1753 from a specimen he thought came from Ceylon (present Sri Lanka), but at that time he considered all elephants belonging only to one Species.

Carl Linnaeus could hardly contain his excitement over his latest acquisition. “I am pleased that the little elephant has arrived. If he costs a lot, he was worth it. Certainly, he is as rare as a diamond,” the founding father of modern Taxonomy wrote in a letter to a friend on 18 May 1753. Linnaeus dubbed the Species Elephas maximus, which is now commonly known as the Asian elephant, and listed the elephant’s origin, or locality, as Zeylonae paludosis, or Ceylon, the island now called Sri Lanka. Whether or not Linnaeus knew its origin, his pickled pachyderm was cemented as the archetype for the Asian elephant.

Beginning in the 1800s, after the fetus was moved from the royal palace outside Stockholm to the building that became the Swedish Natural History Museum, curators there began to wonder whether their prized holding was mislabelled.

Later researchers enlisted Tom Gilbert to identify the Species, an ancient-DNA expert at the University of Copenhagen, but he failed, even using what was then the world’s most advanced DNA sequencing technology.

Enrico Cappellini, a protein chemist, From a bit of oesophagus, Cappellini and Gilbert detected one protein that differed, by a single amino acid, between the two Species. The protein was a portion of the haemoglobin complex that carries oxygen in red blood cells. In Asian elephants, the amino acid is aspartate, whereas in African elephants it is glutamate. Cappellini’s tests confirmed that Linnaeus’s elephant encoded glutamate. Mystery solved: the fetus that Linnaeus had taken as the archetype of the Asian elephant was, in fact, an African elephant.

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2024). zoologist Carl Linnaeus in Sweden. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 20 July 2024 at (archived at the Wayback machine)

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Categories zoologist | taxonomy | The Royal Society of Sciences at Uppsala | Linnaeus family | Born 1707 | Dead 1778 | People from Sweden

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