Systematics: Historical Overview

  1. Christopher J Humphries

Published Online: 23 SEP 2005

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0003337



How to Cite

Humphries, C. J. 2005. Systematics: Historical Overview. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. The Natural History Museum, London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 23 SEP 2005


Prior to Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, the origin of systematics dates back to the Greeks, but it was the development of the Greek model by Linnaeus in the middle of the eighteenth century that is recognized as the starting point of systematics. The changes in method that have come about since that time are largely due to different appreciations as to what constitutes homology, hierarchy and the relationship between systematics and evolution.


  • systematics;
  • taxonomy;
  • phenetics;
  • cladistics;
  • computer algorithms;
  • parsimony