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Natural History
Oct, 1999

When Fossils Were Young.

Author/s: Stephen Jay Gould

Outmoded classification systems persister long periods before being rapidly replaced by something more sensible.

In his first inaugural address, in 1861, Abraham Lincoln expressed some strong sentiments that later guardians of stable governments would hesitate to recall. "This country, with its institutions," he stated, "belongs to the people who inhabit it.... Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." Compared with these grand (and just) precepts, the tiny little reforms that make life just a tad better may pale into risible insignificance, but I would not disparage their cumulative power to alleviate the weariness of existence and to forestall any consequent movement toward Lincoln's more drastic solutions. Thus, while acknowledging their limits, I do applaud, without cynicism, the introduction of workable air-conditioning in the subways of New York City, croissants in our bakeries, goat cheese in our markets (how did we once survive on cheddar and Velveeta?), and supertitles in our opera houses.

Into this category of minuscule but unambiguous improvements I would place a small change that has crept from innovation to near ubiquity on the scheduling boards of our nation's airports. Until this recent reform, lists of departures invariably followed strict temporal order--that is, the 10:15 for Chicago came after the 10:10 for Atlanta (and twenty other flights also leaving at 10:10), with the 10:05 for Chicago listed just above both, in the middle of another pack for the same time. Fine and dandy--so long as you knew your exact departure time and didn't mind searching through a long list of different places sharing the same moment. But most of us surely find the difference between Chicago and Atlanta more salient than the distinction between two large flocks of flights separated by a few minutes that all experienced travelers recognize as fictional in any case.

A few years ago, some enlightened soul experienced a flash of insight that should have occurred to myriads of travelers decades ago: why not list flights by cities of destination rather than times of departure--and then use temporal order as a secondary criterion for all flights to each city? Then travelers need only scan an alphabetical list to find Chicago and its much shorter and far less confusing array of temporal alternatives. Listing by city of destination has now virtually replaced the old criterion of departure time at our nation's airports. The transition, however piecemeal, both within and among airports, took only a few years--and life has become just a bit less stressful as a result. The innovator of this brilliant, if tiny, improvement deserves the "voice of the tutfie" medal for easing life's little pains (see the Song of Solomon for a full list of the small blessings that lead us to "rise up ... and come away" to better places).

I suspect that two important and linked properties of cultural change lead to long persistence of truly outmoded and inconvenient systems, followed by rapid transition to something more sensible. First, the outdated modality arose for a good reason at the time, not by mere caprice. A lingering memory of rationality might help explain the great advantages afforded by simple incumbency in both politics and ideology. (I suspect that listing by time of departure made evident sense when the train, or the stagecoach in earlier times, passed through town along the only road, and all travelers went either one way or t'other: "The southbound stage, did you say, sir? Do you want to take the 10:30, the 3:00, or the 5:15?")

The old way, having worked so well for so long, will persist faute de mieux until oozing change finally makes the world sufficiently different and some bright soul gets inspired to say, We can do much better at essentially no cost or bother. The ease of the change and the obvious character of the improvement then induce the second feature of great rapidity, once thought breaks through the thick wall of human stodginess. In seeking a biological analogy to express the speed of such a transition, I would seek an appropriate metaphor in the concept of infection, not evolution.

I mention this phenomenon because, in an accident potentiated by browsing through old books (a grand and useful pleasure that we must somehow learn to preserve--or, more accurately, keep possible--in the forthcoming world of electronic source materials rather than primary documents), I encountered a remarkably similar example, with an entirely sensible beginning at the birth of modern paleontology in 1546, followed by a troublesome middle period resembling our difficulty in searching through large flocks of flights ordered by time, and ending with a resolution by 1650 that has persisted ever since. How shall the names of authors in scholarly bibliographies be ordered? Alphabetically, of course (and "alphabetical order" already had a long pedigree), but how particularly, since people have more than one name?

Consider the example that first inspired my interest and puzzlement--the bibliography from Caspar Bauhin's 1613 volume on the bezoar stone. (The Swiss brothers Caspar (1560-1624) and Jean (1541-1613) Bauhin ranked among the greatest botanists and natural historians of their time. Bezoars are rounded and layered stones found in the internal organs--stomach, gall bladder, kidneys--of large herbivorous mammals, primarily sheep and goats. In the Bauhins' time, both medical and lay mythology attributed magical and curative powers to these stones.)

In an episode of my favorite television comedy classic, The Honeymooners, Ed Norton (played by Art Carney), following his promotion to file clerk from his former job in the sewers, gets into terminal trouble for his overly literal method of filing: he places "the Smith affair" under the letter T. Bauhin seems to follow a procedure of only slightly greater utility in alphabetizing his sources by their first names. Note his initial entries for the letter A. The system works well enough for a few classical authors--the single-named Aristotle and the greatest scientific philosophers of early Islam, Avicenna and Averroes. Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus), the teacher of Thomas Aquinas, also fares well enough, since Magnus is his honorific, not his last name (although I once received a student term paper that listed him as Mr. Magnus).

But I don't relish the need to search through a long list of Andreases to find my two favorite contemporaries of Bauhin's (from a time when the system of first and last names had already been stabilized in Europe), the chemist Andreas Libavius and the anatomist (and geologist) Andreas Caesalpinus. When we encounter the lengthy list of Johns--the most common first name both then and now--the system's utility suffers serious deterioration. I have to remember that Caspar Bauhin's own brother bears this name if I wish to honor (and consult) the family lineage. Even worse, how will I ever find the greatest of all sixteenth-century geologists, Georgius Agricola--for even if I know the system and realize that he will not appear under his distinctive last name, I will still strike out if I search under Georgius, the first name that he always used in publications. I have to remember (if I ever knew) that he had been christened Johannes Georgius--and I must therefore consult the biggest list of the Johns.

(Filing by first name cannot be dismissed as absurd in abstract principle, but only as unworkable in actual practice, because most Europeans share just a few common first names, whereas their far more distinctive last names should be preferred as primary labels for bibliographers. As an interesting modern analog, last names can be quite scarce in Latin countries. Therefore, people who bear one of the more common monikers--the Hernandezes or the Guzmans, for example--usually add their mother's last name to their father's primary label--as in Gonzalez y Ramon--not for reasons of political correctness but rather for greater distinction in identification.)

I would have been less puzzled by this obviously suboptimal system for 1613 if I had bothered to ask myself why such a strategy had probably developed as a sensible option in the first place. Instead I found the answer, again by chance, while browsing through the great foundational work of modern geology: the 1546 treatise by Bauhin's greatest invisible "John," the aforementioned Georgius Agricola.

The extensive bibliography of Agricola's De Natura Fossilium, the first major treatise on geology under Gutenberg's regime for producing books, uses first names for ordering and spans a wide range of time (from Homer in the ninth century B.C. to Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century A.D.) and traditions (from the Greek dramatist Aeschylus to the Persian philosopher Zoroaster). All of Bauhin's ancient A's take their rightful places: Aristotle, Averroes, and Avicenna. But here the system of starting at the very beginning of each name makes perfect sense, because all of Agricola's sources either bear only one name or use the first word of a compound moniker as their distinctive identification.

Agricola, after all, begins the chronological list of scholarship in his time. He therefore devotes his bibliography only to sources from antiquity--both because no two-named contemporary had published anything of note in the field of geology, and especially because scholars of the Renaissance (literally "rebirth") believed that knowledge had deteriorated following the golden ages of Greece and Rome and that their noble task required the rediscovery and emulation of a lost perfection that could not, in principle, be superseded.

But as scholarship exploded, and the assumptions of the Renaissance gave way to a notion (especially in science) that genuinely new knowledge could be discovered by people now living (and, in another cultural innovation, identified by their last names), the old method of bibliographic listing--ordering by the very first letter of each name, no matter which part of a compound name expressed the personal distinctiveness of an individual--ceased to make sense. Almost inevitably, the modern system of listing by the most salient marker--nearly always the "last" name for people of European extraction but (obviously) retaining the old system for single-named ancients--gained quick acceptance and became universal by the century's end. In the accompanying bibliography from an important chemical treatise of 1671 (the Experimentum Chymicum Novum of J. J. Becher), our "modern" system has already prevailed. Agricola now joins Aristotle and Avicenna under the A's, and I can finally find my minor hero Caesalpinus under C, even if I can't remember his nondistinctive first name, Andreas.

In short, the original bibliographic system in printed scientific books worked well for Agricola in 1546 because all his sources (authors from antiquity) used only one name. But by the time of Bauhin's bezoar book in 1613, the old system no longer made sense, because a fundamental change in scholarly practice--honoring new knowledge discovered by living people--combined with a social change in naming, filled Bauhin's bibliographic list with modern, two-named folks still listed by the old system as John, Bill, or Mike. Bauhin, in other words, got stuck in a transient intermediary state bound for imminent extinction--still ordering by the time of the afternoon stage for London, when his readers wanted to know the cities first and the times afterward. Within a few decades, some bright soul devised the simple reform (listing by the most salient name) that brought an old institution (the bibliography) into line with a new practice (the relevance and dominance of modern authors).

The common message of these stories--that our traditions may arise for small and sensible reasons but may then outlive their utility by persisting as oddities and impediments in an altered world--may strike most scientists as intriguing enough but irrelevant to their own professional practices. We all recognize that organisms, in their evolution, may be hampered by such historical baggage, not easily shed from the genetic and developmental systems of complex creatures now adapted to different environments. Whales cannot jettison their air-breathing lungs, while humans suffer herniations and lower back pains because upright posture imposes such weight and stress upon weak muscles that, in our four-footed ancestors, never needed to bear such a burden. But we do not sufficiently honor the analogous principle that scientific ideas, in their history of growth and development, may also be stymied by superannuated beliefs and traditions--intellectual luggage that should be checked at the gate (and truly lost, on purpose for once, by an obliging airline).

We do eventually amend the worst injustices of our foundational documents, thus avoiding the tragedies of Lincoln's more drastic alternative of armed insurrection: women can now vote, and an African American no longer counts as only three-fifths of a person in our national census. But we do not always shed the burdens of less pernicious irrationalities. We have never, for example, amended the constitutional provision that presidents must have been born within the geographic confines of literal American territory. If your impeccably patriotic parents of Mayflower descent happened to be traveling in France when you decided to make your worldly entry, you had best find another way to place your mark upon history.

All the traditions that I have discussed in this essay--from airline listings to bibliographies and constitutional definitions--represent taxonomies, or classifications of related objects into an order that either helps us to retrieve information (the basic utilitarian reason for erecting taxonomies) or purports to explain the basis of variation (the scientist's more general rationale for devising systems of classification). My examples from the Constitution of the United States, discussed just above, illustrate this principle well. All the claims that now seem either cruel or merely senseless pose arbitrary answers to questions about categories and classifications: Who shall vote? How shall we count people for the census? How shall "true blue" be defined as a criterion for ultimate leadership?

I emphasize this principle because false taxonomies--based on sensible criteria at first but then persisting as traditions that can only be deemed arbitrary (at best) or harmful (at worst)--form a potent category of mental biases that becloud our view of empirical nature and our moral compass as well. My fellow scientists seem particularly subject to this species of blindness because we have been trained to think that we see the world objectively. We therefore become specially subject to delusion by taxonomic schemes implanted in our minds by cultural traditions of learning but falsely regarded as expressing an objective natural reality.

To present an example of tradition's power to reach forward from arbitrary beginnings by imposing false taxonomies upon human thought, let me return to the Bauhins--this time, to the brother whom Caspar hid among his Johns. Strange as this fact may sound to modern ears, the first half century of modern paleontology--from Agricola's first printed treatise of 1546 up to 1600--included virtually no illustrations of fossils in published sources, although botanical traditions for illustration had already led to the production of several elaborate, lavishly illustrated herbals. Agricola's long and elegantly printed treatise included no pictures--and neither did the great source from antiquity, Pliny's Natural History. I can think of only four or five sixteenth-century sources that printed any illustrations of fossils at all, and only two of these works feature series of drawings that could be called either extensive or systematic--De Rerum Fossilium, the 1565 treatise by the great Swiss polymath Conrad Gesner, and a 1598 monograph on the medicinal waters and surrounding natural environments of the German fountains at Boll by Jean Bauhin (who as a young man had studied and then collaborated with Gesner).

Of these two works, Gesner's represents a general exemplification, not the report of a specific collection from a particular place. Gesner provided simple woodcut illustrations for one or two specimens from each major group of "fossils" then known in Europe (a heterogeneous assemblage by modern standards, including paleolithic hand axes then interpreted as stones that fell from the sky in thunderstorms and sea urchins then interpreted by some scholars as serpents' eggs).

Bauhin's treatise, on the other hand, represents a true beginning for an important tradition in science: the depiction not only of characteristic forms or representative specimens, but an attempt to present the full range of variety found in a particular fauna--in other words, to "draw `em all just as one sees `em," without any confusing selection or interpretation. In fact, in his very few paragraphs of introductory text, Bauhin tells us that he will simply show what he sees and not enter the brewing debate about the meaning of fossils. For that fascinating but (for his purposes) diversionary activity, readers will have to consult (he pointedly tells us) the aforementioned scholarly works of Agricola and Gesner. He, Jean Bauhin, nature's humble servant, will simply draw the fossils he has found and let readers draw their own conclusions.

Bauhin's 53 pages and 211 drawings therefore mark the first printed presentation of a complete set of fossil specimens from a particular place. In consulting his treatise, we are truly "present at the creation" of an important tradition in the depiction and classification of nature's bountiful variety. But however much we appreciate the privilege and however appropriately we admire Bauhin's originality, we should also bear the theme of this essay in mind and ask some crucial questions about cultural practices: What conventions did Bauhin invent in creating this genre? Did his rules and customs make sense in his day? Did they then become arbitrary impediments to increasing knowledge, masquerading as an "obvious" way to present "objective" facts of nature?

As a striking proof that our iconographic traditions may originate as arbitrary inventions of idiosyncratic beginners, we need only consider the chapter following the opening section on fossils in Bauhin's 1598 treatise--his discussion of variation in local pears and apples. The average apple couldn't be confused with the average pear, but so many forms of both fruits had been developed in this region of Germany ,that extensive overlap could lead to uncertainties for dumpy and elongated apples or for compressed and top-heavy pears. Bauhin therefore invented the practice of drawing all the apples stem down and all the pears stem up!

Bauhin's convention did not take hold, so we tend to view his illustrations as rather quaint--and the purely arbitrary character of his decision stands out clearly to us today. But suppose that his practice had endured. Wouldn't we be wondering today why Delicious goes down and Bartlett goes up? Or, more interesting to contemplate, would we be pondering this issue at all? Perhaps we would simply be accepting a printed orientation that we had seen throughout life, never bothering to question the evident discrepancy with nature's obedience to gravity, where both fruits hang down from stems. (Or perhaps, as city folks dwelling in concrete jungles, we would never even realize that nature works differently from art. Honest, growing up as a New York City street kid, I really didn't know for a long time that milk came out of cow's teats--yuck!--rather than from bottles ab initio.)

This example may strike readers as silly. But we follow similarly arbitrary conventions and mistake them for natural reality all the time. Anglophone publications, for example, always draw snails with the apex (the pointy end) on top and the aperture (the hole through which the animal extends and retracts) at the bottom. This orientation seems so obviously natural to me--apex up, aperture down. Of course; how else could a snail be? But French publications--and I do not know how or why the differences in practice began--always draw snails in the opposite orientation, with the apex pointing down and the aperture up. So millions of Frenchmen must be wrong, n'est-ce pas? But when you learn about the difference and then allow yourself to consider the issue for the first time, you suddenly realize--and the insight can be quite salutary--that the French and English solutions might as well be Bauhin's pears and apples. Neither mode can possibly be called correct by correspondence to nature. Most snails crawl horizontally along the substrate. Both ends lie basically parallel to the sea floor. Nether can be labeled as intrinsically up or down.

In another example that caused me some personal embarrassment but also taught me something important about convention versus nature, I once wrote in one of these essays that Earth's North Pole pointed up and that our planet rotated counterclockwise around this axis (viewed, as by God or an astronaut, from above). An Australian reader wrote me a letter, gently pointing out the absence of absolute "up" or "down" in the cosmos and reminding me that our cartographic convention only reflects where most map-making Europeans live. From his patriotic vantage (and accepting another dubious convention that equates "up" with "good"), the Antarctic Pole points up, and Earth rotates clockwise around this southern standard.

The situation becomes even more complicated, and even more evidently ruled by convention, when we consider the history of cartography. In many medieval maps, drawn under the Ptolemaic notion of a central and nonrotating Earth, east--the direction of the rising Sun--occupies the top of the map. The word "Orient"--meaning "East" but with an etymology of "rising" in reference to the Sun--gained the additional and more symbolic definition of "locating one's position," because east once occupied this favored top spot on our standard maps. (The Chinese used to be called Orientals for the same reason, before the term lapsed from political correctness, while Europeans became Occidentals, or Westerners, in literal reference to the "falling down," or setting, of the Sun.)

When we survey Bauhin's more than 200 fossil drawings, the largest single cache of sixteenth-century paleontological illustrations, we note the origin of several conventions that, although superseded today (and therefore unknown to most modern scientists), seriously impeded, for nearly two centuries, a proper understanding of the nature of fossils and the history of life. Consider just three classes of examples, all based on the taxonomic conventions of sixteenth-century paleontology. The recognition of Bauhin's illustrations as conventional rather than natural, and their replacement, by the end of the eighteenth century, with "modern" figures that clearly depict fossils as ancient organisms, virtually defines the primary shift in understanding that led to our greatest gain in knowledge during the early history of paleontology.

1. Conflation of categories. In Bauhin's day, the word "fossil"--derived from the past participle of the Latin verb fodere, meaning "to dig up"--referred to any object of distinctive form found within the Earth, thus placing the remains of ancient organisms in the same general category as crystals, stalactites, and a wide range of other inorganic objects. Until organic remains could be recognized as distinctive, placed in a category of their own, and properly interpreted as the products of history, modern geology, with its distinctive concept of continuous change through deep time, could not replace the reigning paradigm of an Earth only a few thousand years old and created pretty much as we find it today, with the possible exception of changes wrought by Noah's universal flood.

If fossils originated within rocks as products of the mineral kingdom, just as crystals grow in mines and stalactites form in caves, then a petrified "shell" may just denote one kind of inorganic object manufactured in its proper place within the mineral kingdom. Thus, when Bauhin places his drawing of a fossil snail shell right next to a conical mound of crystals because both share a roughly similar shape and supposed mode of inorganic origin (see page 72), this taxonomic convention does not merely record a neutral "fact" of pure observation, as Bauhin claimed. Rather, his juxtaposition of two objects now viewed as fundamentally different in origin and meaning expresses a theory about the structure of nature and the pattern of history--a worldview, moreover, that stood firmly against one of the great revolutions in the history of scientific understanding: the depth of time and the extent of change.

2. Failure to distinguish accidental resemblance from genuine embodiment. Contrary to a common impression, Jean Bauhin and his contemporaries did not claim that all fossils must be inorganic in origin and that none could represent the petrified remains of former plants and animals. Rather, they failed to make a sharp taxonomic distinction between specimens that they did regard as organic remains and other rocks that struck them as curious or meaningful for their resemblance to organisms or human artifacts, even though they had presumably formed as inorganic products of the mineral kingdom. Thus, Bauhin includes an entire page of six rocks that resemble male genitalia (see page 73), while another page features an aggregate of crystals with striking similarity in form to the helmet and head covering in a suit of armor (this page, left). He does not regard the rocks as actual fossilized penises and testicles, and he certainly doesn't interpret the "helmet" as a shrunken trophy from the Battle of Agincourt. But his taxonomic juxtaposition of recognized mineral accidents with suspected organic remains does lump apples and oranges together (or, should I say, apples and pears, without a stem-up-or-down convention to permit a fruitful separation), thereby strongly impeding our ability to identify distinct causes and modes of origin for genuine fossil plants and animals.

3. Drawing organic fossils with errors that preclude insight into their origins. Bauhin claimed that he drew only what he saw with his eyes, unencumbered by theories about the nature of objects. We may applaud this ideal, but we must also recognize the practical impossibility of full realization. What can be more intricate and complex than a variegated rock filled with fossils (most in fragmentary condition), mineral grains, and sedimentary features of bedding followed by later cracking and fracturing? Accurate drawing requires that an artist embrace some kind of theory about the nature of these objects, if only to organize such a jumble of observations into something coherent enough to draw.

Since Bauhin did not properly interpret many of his objects as shells of ancient organisms that had grown bigger during their lifetimes, he drew several specimens with errors that, if accepted as literal representations, would have precluded their organic status. For example, he tried to represent the growth lines of a fossil clam, but he drew them as a series of concentric circles--implying impossible growth from a point on the surface of one of the valves--rather than as a set of expanding shell margins radiating from a starting point at the edge of the shell where the two valves hinge together.

Bauhin also drew many ammonite shells fairly accurately, but these extinct relatives of the chambered nautilus grew with continually enlarging whorls (as the animal inside increased in size). Bauhin presents several of his ammonites, however, with a final whorl distinctly smaller than preceding volutions from a younger stage of growth. Reading this error literally, an observer would conclude that these shells could not have belonged to living and growing organisms. Finally, in the most telling example of all, Bauhin drew three belemnites (cylindrical internal shells of squidlike animals) in vertical orientation, covered with a layer of inorganic crystals on top--clearly implying that these objects grew inorganically, like stalactites hanging from the roof of a cave.

So long as later scientists followed these three iconographic conventions that Bauhin developed in 1598, paleontology could not establish the key principle for a scientific understanding of life's history: a clear taxonomic separation of genuine organic remains from all the confusing inorganic objects that had once been lumped together with them into the heterogeneous category of "figured stones"--an overextended set of specimens far too diffuse in form, and far too disparate in origin, to yield any useful common explanations. These early conventions of drawing and classification persisted until the late eighteenth century, thus impeding our understanding about the age of the Earth and the history of life's changes. Even the word "fossil" did not achieve its modern restriction to organic remains until the early years of the nineteenth century.

I do not exhume this forgotten story to blame Jean Bauhin for establishing a tradition of drawing that made sense when naturalists did not understand the meaning of fossils and had not yet separated organic remains from mineral productions--a tradition that soon ceased to provide an adequate framework and then acted as an impediment to more productive taxonomies. The dead bear no responsibility for the failures of the living to correct their inevitable errors.

I would rather praise the Bauhin brothers for their greatest accomplishment in the subject of their primary joint expertise --botanical taxonomy. Brother Caspar of the bezoar stone published his greatest work, Pinax, in 1623--a taxonomic system for the names of some 6,000 plants, representing forty years of his concentrated labor. Brother Jean of the fossils of Boll had been dead for thirty-seven years before his greatest work, Historia plantarum universalis, achieved posthumous publication in 1650, with even more elaborate descriptions and synonyms of 5,226 distinct kinds of plants.

Botanical taxonomy before the Bauhin brothers had generally followed capricious conventions of human convenience rather than attempting to determine any natural basis for resemblances among various forms of plants (several previous naturalists had simply listed the names of plants in alphabetical order). The Bauhin brothers dedicated themselves to the first truly systematic search for a "natural" taxonomy based on principles of order intrinsic to plants themselves. (They would have interpreted this natural order as a record of God's creative intentions; we would offer a different explanation in terms of genealogical affiliation produced by evolutionary change. But the value of simply deciding to search for a "natural" classification precedes and transcends the virtue of any subsequent attempt to unravel the causes of order.)

Caspar Bauhin may have slightly impeded the progress of bibliography by retaining an outmoded system in his bezoar book. Jean Bauhin may have stymied the development of paleontology in a more serious manner by establishing iconographic traditions that soon ceased to make sense but that later scientists retained for lack of courage or imagination. But the Bauhin brothers vastly superseded these less successful efforts with their brilbant work on the fruitful basis of botanical taxonomy. Their system, in fact, featured a close approach to the practice of binomial nomenclature, as later codified by Linnaeus in mid-eighteenth-century works that still serve as the basis for modern taxonomy of both plants and animals.

Science honored the Bauhin brothers when an early Linnaean botanist established Bauhinia as the name for a genus of tropical trees. Linnaeus himself then provided an ultimate accolade when he named a species of this genus Bauhinia bijuga, meaning "Bauhins linked together," to honor the joint work of these two remarkable men. We might also recall Abraham Lincoln's famous words (from the same inaugural address that opened this essay) about filial linkage of a larger kind--between brethren now at war, who must somehow remember the "mystic chords of memory" and reestablish, someday, their former union on a higher plane of understanding.

The impediments of outmoded systems may sow frustration and discord, but if we force our minds to search for more fruitful taxonomies and to challenge our propensity for passive acceptance of traditional thinking, then the "better angels of our nature" (in Lincoln's memorable line) may expand the realms of conceptual space by the most apparently humble, yet most markedly effective, intellectual device: the development of a new taxonomic scheme to break a mental logjam. "Rise up ... and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth" (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)--fruits of nature for the Bauhin brothers, and all their followers, to classify and relish.

ABDALA  Anarach Mcdicus

Adamus           Lonicerus.
Albertus         Magnus.
Alexander        Maffaria.
Amatus           Lufitanus.
Ambrofius        Pataus.
Andreas          Alpagius Bellunefis.
Andreas          Baccius.
Andreas          Caefalpinus.
Andreas          Dorerus.
Andreas          Lacuna.
Andreas          Libauius.
Andreas          Theuetus.
Anshelmus        Boetius.
Antonius         Fornefius.
Antonius         Fumanellus.
Antonius         Guaynerius.
Antonius         Mizaldus.
Antonius         Mufa Braifuolas.
Antonius         Portus.
Antonius         Schnebergerus.
Arnoldus         Manlius.
Arnoldus         Villanouanus.
Auenzoar         Arabs.
D. Auguftinus.
Ioannes          Agricola.
Ioan. Antonius   Sarracenus.
Ioan.            Arculanus.
Io. Baptifta     Montanus.
Ioan. Baptift.   Syluaticus.
Ioan.            Bauhinus.
Ioan.            Bodinus.
Ioan.            Caluinus.
Ioan.            Collerus.
Ioan.            Coftaues.
Ioan.            Crafto.
Ioan.            Fernelius.
Ioan.            Fragolus.
Ioan.Georgius    Agricola.
Ioan.Georgius    Schenckius.
Ioan.            Gorraeus.
Ioan.            Guinterus Ander.
Ioan.            Heurnius.
Ioan.            Hugo a Linfcotten.
Ioan.            Kentmannus.
Ioan.            Langius.
Ioan.            Manardus.
Ioan.            Matthaeus.
Ioan.            Mefues.
Ioan.            Porta.
Ioan.            Renodaeus.
Ioan.            Schenckius.
Ioan.            Weckerus.
Ioan.            Wittichius.

The "Johns" list in Bauhin's book shows the increasing problem in listing by first name.

QUORUM INVENTIS USUS SUM, ATQUE EX IPSIS HI, QUI NON EXTANT, AB ALIIS UT rerum, de quibus fcribunt, autores citantur.

Aelius Lampridius
Aelius Spartianus
Aetius Amidenus
Alexander Aphrodifienfis
Alexander Cornelius
Alexander qui fcripfit
  res Lyciacas
D. Ambrofius
Apion Pliftonices
Arifteas Proconnefius
D. Auguftinus
Aulus Gellius
C. Plinius Secundusfenior
Cornelius Celfus
Cornelius Nepos
Cornelius Tacitus
Democritus qui fcripfit De lapidibus
Dionyfius Afer
Empedocles Agrigentinus
Fabius Pictor
Fl. Vopifcus
Galen Pergamenus
Graecus iznotus qui
  fcripfit De admirandis
D. Hieronymus
M. Varro
Paulus Aegineta
Phocion gramaticus
Sex. Pompejus Feftus
Valerius Maximus

B.             C.

Barnaudus.     Cefalpinus.
Barlaeus.      de Caftagnia.
Bartholinus.   Certaldus.
Beguinus.      de la Chambre.
Bernhardus.    Chriftina Regina.
Boodt.         Chryfoftomus.
Borellus.      Claveus.
Boyle.         Clazomerius.

In Becher's lists rom 1671, scientists appear according to their surnames.

There were so few scientists in 1546 that Agricola's listing of them by first name still made sense.

Stephen Jay Gould teaches biology geology and the history of science at Harvard University. He is also the Frederick P. Rose Honorary Curator in Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History.

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