Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Linnean Collections online

The Linnean Society of London (U.K.) is creating a digital image collection of the plants and insects in their possession. They have completed the 14,000 plants, and the moths and butterflies segment of the insect collection. The images show both top and bottom views of the butterflies/moths, and the labels. The photographs are beautiful.

From various pages on their website:

The Linnean Society of London holds some 9,000 specimens, including 3,200 Linnaean ones, of which many are important types. After acquiring the collections from the widow of Linnaeus in 1784, Sir James Edward Smith, the founder and first President of the Linnean Society, added his own specimens to the collection, almost trebling its size. Because of difficulties in recognising all the material interpolated by Smith it has been maintained as a single historic collection. Besides insects as we understand them today, the collection also includes such things as spiders, scorpions, millipedes and crabs – all ‘insects’ as Linnaeus understood them.

The prime scientific importance of the Linnaean part of the collection is as type* specimens for the species which he described. Smith's material (which can often be distinguished from Linnaeus' by the type of pins used to secure specimens) is a valuable source of information on insects from around the globe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but so far has been little exploited.
[*A type specimen is one which is permanently associated with a given scientific name, and acts as a permanent reference point to confirm the identity of the species to which the name must apply.]

For more information see "The 'Linnaean' insect collection" by Mike Fitton and Kim Harman in The Linnean Special Issue No. 7, 2007, 'The Linnaean Collections'.


The Linnaean Collections comprise the specimens of plants (14,000), fish (158), shells (1,564) and insects (3,198) acquired from the widow of Carl Linnaeus in 1784 by Sir James Edward Smith, founder and first President of the Linnean Society. They also include the library of Linnaeus (of some 1,600 volumes) and his letters (c. 3,000 items of correspondence and manuscripts). All are housed in a temperature and humidity controlled strongroom in the Linnean Society.

It is the Linnean Society's aim to make available its primary research material in digital formats to support taxonomic and conservation efforts worldwide as well as providing public pleasure and enjoyment.

Browse the Collections
Search the Collections by categories: Herbarium or Insects.

The Herbarium archive contains all 14,000 Linnaean plant specimens. This first phase of the Insects archive contains the Linnaean and Smithian butterflies and moths only. All the remaining insects from the collection will be made available early in 2009.

Apparently, the Fish and Shell Collections will also be digitized, eventually.

1 comment:

Quran said...

Its a good step and it help us when any of the species will vanish then we can study it from here.