Linnean Learning videos

Published on 12th January 2018

linnean learning video still

On the 28th of November the Linnean Learning Video Series Launch event celebrated the beginning of their release which will extend until the 1st of March. Each week the society will release one new video on the Society's YouTube channel. The video series explores the fascinating world of Carl Linnaeus, taxonomy and whole organism biology. The stories, specimens and objects, shared in these 13 videos, are entirely unique to The Linnean Society of London.

The first in this series, Life Underground, explores the collections in a pseudo-noir style, playing with the idea of biologists as sleuths in the natural world. Each video delves into mysterious stories about Linnaeus’s specimens, housed within the vault below London’s streets. We have rang in the New Year with series two, Clever Collections, which uses objects from the Society’s collections as starting points for understanding the modern scientific method. Finally in February 2018 we will launch series three, The Curious Cases of Carl Linnaeus, a beautiful and fully animated series narrated by Dr George McGavin FLS that looks at Linnaeus and his innovations.

Brown microscope

The huge task of creating these videos would not have been possible without the knowledge and expertise of the collections team. The collections team helped in the identification of potential stories, specimens, images, the locating of books for research and digitization. The collections team has curated an exhibition on some of the collections featured in the videos, which opened on the night of the launch event. Each of the five display cases contains objects which illustrate or are mentioned in one of the videos. Showcasing the 'Robert Brown's Microscope' video, in the series Clever Collections, is Brown's microscope itself, a modification of Cuff’s microscope, and probably made especially for him. With it, Brown observed the jiggling of particles released by pollen grains in water. This jiggling, known as Brownian motion, was analysed mathematically by Einstein and showed to be caused by the impact of individual molecules. The display also includes James Sowerby’s beautiful drawings for the plates illustrating Robert Brown’s paper in the Transactions of the Linnean Society (1831), in which the nucleus of the plant cell was first described.

seahorses and pipefish

Another case illustrates the video 'Sex - the Predawn Dance', in the series Life Underground, with the two specimens of seahorses from Carl Linnaeus's collections. A variety of works from the 17th to the 19th centuries charts the evolution of the classification of seahorses, from being classed as insects by the English naturalist Thomas Moffet (1643), to Bernard Germain de Lacépède (1802) who, like Linnaeus, grouped pipefishes and seahorses under the same genus of Syngnathus, within fishes.

The videos are free and available to watch on the Linnean Society's YouTube channel. To find out which new video is being released each week you can follow us on Twitter @Linneanlearning.

The videos are also all available to watch on a touch screen in the Library. The exhibition will be on display until 16 March 2018. The Library is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5 pm, and accessible to all. It is recommended to contact us before your visit, as the Library is sometimes closed for functions.

Ross Ziegelmeier, Education Project Officer and Isabelle Charmantier, Deputy Collections Manager