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Aristotle’s scientific contributions to the classification, nomenclature and distribution of marine organisms
Voultsiadou, E.; Gerovasileiou, V.; Vandepitte, L.; Ganias, K.; Arvanitidis, C. (2017). Aristotle’s scientific contributions to the classification, nomenclature and distribution of marine organisms. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 18(3): 468-478.
In: Mediterranean Marine Science. National Centre for Marine Research: Athina. ISSN 1108-393X; e-ISSN 1791-6763, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Aegean Sea; Ancient Greece; history of marine biology; marine biodiversity; philosophy of biology.

Authors  Top 
  • Voultsiadou, E., more
  • Gerovasileiou, V., more
  • Vandepitte, L., more
  • Ganias, K.
  • Arvanitidis, C., more

    The biological works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle include a significant amount of information on marine animals. This study is an overview of Aristotle’s scientific contribution to the knowledge of marine biodiversity and specifically to taxonomic classification, nomenclature and distribution of marine species. Our results show that Aristotle’s approach looks remarkably familiar to present day marine biologists since: (i) although not directly aiming at it, he gave a taxonomic classification of marine animals, which includes physical groups ranked on three levels at least; (ii) most of Aristotle’s marine “major groups” correspond to taxa of the order rank in Linnaeus’s classification and to taxa of the class rank in the current classification; (iii) a positive correlation was found between the number of taxa per group identified in Aristotle’s writings and those described by Linnaeus; (iv) Aristotle’s classification system exhibits similarities with the current one regarding the way taxa are distributed to higher categories; (v) a considerable number of Aristotle’s marine animal names have been used for the creation of the scientific names currently in use; (vi) he was the first to give an account of Mediterranean marine fauna, focusing on the Aegean Sea and adjacent areas. In view of the above, we suggest that the foundations of marine taxonomy as laid down by Aristotle are still echoing today.

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