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By Mašán, Peter, Fenďa, Peter

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Additional info for A review of the laelapid mites associated with terrestrial mammals in Slovakia, with a key to the European species. - 1

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QXD 31/5/02 12:56 PM Page 36 P L AT Y P U S An illustration from Buffon’s Natural History. Buffon grouped these four animals—the Great Ternat Bat, the Tamanoir, the Pangolin and the Armadillo—together in his natural history system according to their function and activity since, as he put it with engaging simplicity, the last three ‘had many things in common; they fed on ants, sucked honey, and were tamed and domesticated easily’. ‘They go so slowly’, he added, ‘that a man can overtake them’. QXD 31/5/02 12:56 PM Page 37 marshalling the animals species as his touchstone and saw them as more important than the genus, the order or the class; more flexible in adaptation and capable of breeding across species.

Like Ray, Linnaeus also attached importance to the functional implications of reproduction. He made the presence of mammae (milk-secreting glands) and the suckling relationship of mother and young as the defining criterion for the class of warm-blooded animals which he named ‘Mammalia’. His warm-blooded ‘quadrupeds’—quadrupeds with a fourchambered heart and double circulation—were defined categorically by Linnaeus as viviparous—bringing forth their young alive—and mammiferous. His Systema Naturae, first published in 1735 with descriptions of 549 animals, ranged across nearly 6000 species in its last edition.

He separated out as a group the quadrupeds who shared the physical characteristics of four feet, fur and blood, who were terrestrial, and gave birth to live young. Pushing new additions into his filing cabinet of creatures which he gleaned from fishermen, hunters, farmers and his own acute observations and dissections, he turned his eye upon the animals’ organs. QXD 31/5/02 12:55 PM Page 33 marshalling the animals separated the ‘oviparous’ fishes, who laid their eggs for external hatching, from the fishes, sharks, vipers and dogfish who were ‘ovoviviparous’ in kind and hatched their young from eggs inside the body.

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