Carl Alexander Clerck

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Carl Alexander Clerck (* 1709 ; † July 22, 1765 ) was a Swedish entomologist and arachnologist and co-founder of the zoological nomenclature through his work Svenska Spindlar , published in 1757 .


Clerck came from a simple noble family and attended Uppsala University in 1726 . Little is known about his student days. It is not known whether he had any contact with his contemporary Carl von Linné during his stay in Uppsala. Because of his limited resources, he was forced to leave the university early, enter the civil service and finally work in the Stockholm city ​​administration .

Males and females of the spider Araneus angulatus , published in 1757 by Clerck in his work Svenska Spindlar

Influenced by lectures by Linnaeus, which he attended in 1737 when he was more mature, his interest in natural history awoke. In the following years he collected and categorized large numbers of arachnids . His results were published in Svenska spindlar ("Spiders of Sweden") in 1757, along with basic observations of spider behavior . He also began publishing Icones insectorum rariorum , a series of panels with detailed but uncommented illustrations of numerous butterflies . The series remained unfinished after Clerck's death with the third part of 1766.

Clerck was probably a friend of Linnaeus, who welcomed his work very much and through whose patronage Clerck became a member of the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala in 1756 and of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1764 .

Clerck's insect collection was lost for over 200 years and was “rediscovered” in the 1970s in the Bergianska trädgården Botanical Garden in Stockholm, where it was preserved in very good condition. Today it is on permanent loan in the Naturhistoriska riksmuseet in Stockholm. Clerck's Microlepidoptera were found again by Ebbe Schmidt Nielsen in the Gyllenhal collection in Uppsala.

In honor of Carl Clerck one was Kleinschmetterlingsart named from Scandinavia, Phalaena (tinea) clerkella Linnaeus, 1758, today Lyonetia clerkella (Linnaeus, 1758), Lyonetiidae continue a moth from Surinam Phalaena clerckiana Stoll, 1782, a spider from Slovenia Aranea clerkii Scopoli , 1763, a beetle from the South Seas Carabus clerckii Eschscholtz, 1830, a pine spider Pachygnatha clercki Sundevall, 1823, and several other spiders Philodromus clerckii and Thomisus clerckii from Egypt, which were described by Audouin in 1826.

Title page of Clerck's work
Svenska Spindlar , published in 1757

Svenska Spindlar

Svenska Spindlar from 1757 (full title: Svenska Spindlar uti sina hufvud-slågter indelte samt under några och sextio särskildte arter beskrefne och med illuminerade figurer uplyste. ) is the first zoological work thatconsistentlyapplied binary nomenclature for a genus ( Araneus ) and 66 species of Swedish spiders. Due to the extraordinarily thorough processing of these spider species, the species names proposed therein (which Linnaeus adoptedwith minor changesin his work Systema Naturae in 1758 ) have always been traditionallyrecognizedas binary in arachnology, which was later officiallytaken into accountin the nomenclature code. This means that, in case of doubt, the spelling of a name proposed by Clerck in 1757 has priority over that of Linnaeus in 1758 (e.g. Araneus instead of Aranea ) and that Clerck's spiders are the first animals to be scientifically available in modern zoology Got names.


  • Clerck, Karl Alexander . In: Nils Linder (Ed.): Nordisk familjebok konversationslexikon och realencyklopedi . 1st edition. tape 3 : Duplicate capitulum . Gernandts boktryckeri, Stockholm 1880, Sp. 427 (Swedish, ).
  • Clerck, Carl Alexander . In: Herman Hofberg, Frithiof Heurlin, Viktor Millqvist, Olof Rubenson (eds.): Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon . 2nd Edition. tape 1 : A-K . Albert Bonniers Verlag, Stockholm 1906, p. 188 (Swedish, ).
  • Alb. Tullgren: Clerck, Carl Alexander. In: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon. Volume 8, 1929, p. 640 ( ).
  • Clerck, Karl Alexander . In: Bernhard Meijer, Theodor Westrin (ed.): Nordisk familjebok konversationslexikon och realencyklopedi . 2nd Edition. tape 5 : Cestius-Degas . Nordisk familjeboks förlag, Stockholm 1906, Sp. 432-433 (Swedish, ).
  • Peer Inge Persson: Carl Clerck's insect seedling. En orörd samling från Linnés tid. In: Fauna and Flora. Volume 73, No. 3, Uppsala 1978, pp. 137-143.
  • GS Robinson, ES Nielsen: The Microlepidoptera described by Linnaeus and Clerck. In: Systematic Entomology. 8, 1983, pp. 191-242.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ C. Linnæus: Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Volume 1: Editio decima, reformata. L. Salvii, Stockholm 1758, p. 542 ( ).
    The name was written by Linnaeus clerkella , according to the ICZN code Art. 32.5. this is not corrected in clerckella .
  2. C. Clerck: Svenska Spindlar uti sina hufvud-slågter indelte including under några and sextio särskildte arter deskrefne and with illuminerade figurer uplyste. - Aranei Svecici, descriptionibus et figuris æneis illustrati, ad genera subalterna redacti, speciebus ultra LX determinati. L. Salvii, Stockholm 1757. Plates 1-6. ( ). This work was published in Swedish with a slightly smaller Latin translation.
  3. AnimalBase list of the 66 species of spider described by Clerck in 1757.
  4. ICZN Code Art. 3.1