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Link: • Carl Linnaeus to Johan Ernst Gunnerus, 4 March 1769 n.s.
Dated 1769 d 4 Martii. Sent from Uppsala (Sweden) to Trondheim (Norway). Written in Swedish.


The previous day Linnaeus had received a parcel from Johan Ernst GunnerusGunnerus, Johan Ernst
(1718-1773). Norwegian. Bishop of
Trondheim. Together with Gerhard
Schøning and Peter Friederich
Suhm he founded in 1760 Det Kongelige
Norske Videnskabers Selskab [The Royal
Norwegian Society of Sciences and
Letters]. Author of Flora
(1766-1776). Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
through a Norwegian Captain [Johan Thomas Horneman]. Linnaeus spent the whole night reading the fourth volume of Norwegian “Acta” [Gunnerus refers to the publications of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers SelskabDet Kongelige Norske Videnskabers
Selskab, The Royal Norwegian Society of
Sciences and Letters
Founded in 1760 by Johan Ernst Gunnerus,
Gerhard Schøning Peter Friederich
Suhm as the Trondhiemske Selskab (the
Trondheim Society). It received Royal
affirmation of its statues in 1767 and
became the Kongelige Norske Videnskabers
Selskab (the Royal Norwegian Society of
Sciences and Letters). Its publications
are Det Trondhiemske Selskabs
, 1-3 (1761-1765) and Det
Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskabs
, 4-5 (1768-1774).
, Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskabs SkrifterDet Kongelige Norske Videnskabers
Selskab, The Royal Norwegian Society of
Sciences and Letters
Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskabs
, 4-5 (1768-1774).
]. There were so many marvellous things that he was most impressed.

Linnaeus found the story of Delphinus and Squalus most fascinating.

Madrepora prolifera, tab. II, fig. 1,2, is so well described that there will never be any doubts about it.

Serpula norvegica, tab. II, fig. 11,12 is a new species.

Madrepora aspera, tab. 8, fig. 3,2, will probably be a variety of Madrepora virginea. Linnaeus will compare his own specimens with those of Gunnerus.

Millepora tarandicornis, tab. I, 6, is Linnaeus’s Cellepora ramentosa.

Peter Simon PallasPallas, Peter Simon
(1741-1811). German. Naturalist and
explorer. Pallas studied at the
universities of Göttingen and
Leiden. In 1768 he was called to Russia
to take part in an expedition to
Siberia, the aim of which was to study
the passage of Venus. Pallas remained in
Russia for the greater part of his life.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
considers Proteus, which is Linnaeus’s Millepora polymorpha, to be a species of Millepora. If the varieties are of the same species, it is a Millepora. Linnaeus has never seen pores in the northern specimens. He therefore wishes that somebody from the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters would examine how the coral is produced. A coral without pores and animals is like a plant without fructification.

Linnaeus considers Gunnerus’s observation regarding Alcyonium arboreum with its animals to be splendid. Linnaeus had never been able to find out where the fructification was located, until Gunnerus showed it so clearly.

Linnaeus does not know Fucus pinnatus, p. 84, and Fucus ovinus, p. 85, so well. He wonders whether they can be brought to the Ulvae.

Linnaeus believes Fucus bifurcatus to be a variety of another species.

Scomber pelagicus or Scomber norvegicus is most probably another species than pelagicus. Linnaeus wonders, however, whether it can be a species of Scomber. But Gunnerus will be the better judge of that, since in Norway Scomber scombrus is the most common fish in the sea. Linnaeus has his doubts, though. Judging from the illustration the fish rather belongs to the Abdominales where Scomber is a Piscis thoracicus, etc.

To sum there are so many observations that no learned Society has ever before been able to produce such a volume. Linnaeus is now inserting them at their proper places in his notebooks.

Through the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters natural history has not only gained a new province but a new world, since everything under the northern polar circle, which has been hidden since the creation of earth, has now been revealed.

There is no doubt that Peter ArtediArtedi, Peter (1705-1735).
Swedish. Ichtyologist. Close friend of
really has described the major Swedish Eperlanus or “Slom”, because Linnaeus remembers that Artedi saw it every spring and wanted to refer it to a distinct species if possible. Linnaeus was not able to examine the specimen that was sent him, because it had dried. In the spring, however, he will secure a new fresh specimen and at the first opportunity send it to Gunnerus.

P.S. Linnaeus thanks Gunnerus very much for Mus alpinus. He has never seen this animal since the time he travelled in the Swedish Alps. The book has been forwarded to Johan IhreIhre, Johan (1707-1780).
Swedish. Philologist. Professor of Latin
and later of eloquence and political
science at Uppsala.
. They both send their warmest thanks to Gunnerus for their respective copies.


a. original holograph (Norges teknisk-naturvetenskapliga universitetsbiblioteket, Trondheim, Priv. arch. 277. Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskabs Arkiv ).


1. Biskop Gunnerus' virksomhed fornemmelig som botaniker (1903), vol. IV, p. 119-120 .
2. Brevveksling (1976), p. 95-96 .