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John L. Latham

Eltham 1740 - 1837


John L. Latham practiced as a doctor in Datford, in the county of Kent, until 1793. He became a member of the Royal Society in 1775 and was a cofounder of the Linnean Society of London in 1788. Already during his time as a doctor, John Latham became interested in the birds of Australia, which had been introduced to England during the last third of the 18th century, and gave the previously unnamed animals scientific names.
With "A general synopsis of birds," John Latham published his first ornithological work from 1781 to 1801, which contained 106 illustrations drawn by Latham himself. Just as the natural scientist Leclerc de Buffon before him, he placed no importance on the nomenclature of the species introduced here, though he later recognized that only the binominal nomenclature, as used by Carl von Linné, would bring him the necessary respect, which would allow the species identified by him to be ultimately attributed to him.
In 1791, John Latham published the "Index ornithologicus," in which he gave a binominal Latinized name to each of the species of birds he had described. However this was anticipated by the German natural scientist Johann Friedrich Gmelin, who had already named the birds identified by John Latham in his 13th edition of Carl von Linné's "Systema naturae" in 1788. John L. Latham - born June 27, 1740, in Eltham, England; died February 4, 1837 - is considered the "grandfather" of Australian ornithology.


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