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2 The Species and Beyond: Classification and the Place of Hybrids in Early Modern Zoology

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Chapter Summary

In the history of science it is always a bit seductive to follow a teleological approach, to assess the achievements of the past with respect to the present status quo of scientific knowledge. If one does so, lines of linear and progressive development inevitably appear. This has also happened with the history of early modern zoology. The English physician Edward Wotton, son of the senior bedel of theology of the University of Oxford, represents an interesting case, since with his De differentiis animalium he authored the first zoology that offered an integrative classification of all species. If the reduction of hybrids, "composite animals", and monstrous creatures is identified with scientific progress, then one might ascribe a major accomplishment to Wolfgang Franzius, a Lutheran theologian from Wittenberg. This tendency appears in a religious, a 'holy' zoology, Historia animalium sacra, a work that was written for religious purposes.

Keywords: De differentiis animalium; early modern zoology; Edward Wotton; hybrids; species



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