Happy Birthday Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus was born 300 years ago, so happy birthday! His lifetime's work discussing and categorising all known plants and animals in the eighteenth century Western world were published in two volumes Species Plantarum (1753) and Natura Systema (1758). He described the binomial nomenclatural system of naming living things in a taxonomic hierarchy which is still in use all these years later.

Many creatures described by him still retain their original names, Mus musculus, the common house mouse for instance. The genus name of some have since been changed, as in the Eurasian jays which feature in today's posting. Linneaus called jays Corvus glandarius thus showing their affinity with other corvids like crows, rooks and ravens. Today though they are known as Garrulus glandarius which befits such noisy talkative birds.

These Eurasian jays, were filmed in Japan's deciduous forests, but Carl Linnaeus would have been familiar with their counterparts in Sweden. As usual with pictures in this blog these are still frames taken from a documentary film.

The particular behaviour being shown is the preparation that the jay makes for winter, by storing acorns. If the acorns are too light, the jay discards them. The ones that make the grade it will store in its crop, before carrying them off to bury in its territory, which could be as far as half a mile away.

But the jay, like the squirrel, often forgets the hiding place, and some of the undiscovered nuts will germinate and grow. The jay carries the seeds far from the parent tree, so slowly the forest is being moved.

And to end this post what better than to share with you my favourite tag line from the end of an email from a scientist friend of mine, is worth quoting in this birthday week "Homo sapiens - Carl Linnaeus was an optimist"