Homo ferus

Wildm an of Europe.

Etymology: Latin, "wild man."

Present status: Homo ferus was the Swedish taxonomist Carl von Linné's classification of what were probably feral children, allegedly raised in the wilderness by animals. In the tenth edition of his Systema naturae in 1759, Linné divided the genus Homo into seven racial types, more or less based on skin color: europaeus (white), asiaticus (yellow), americanus (red), afer (black), troglodytes (orangutan), monstrosus (giants and mutants), and ferus (hairy, mute, and walking on all fours). His successor Johann Friedrich Blumenbach dropped the ferus and troglodytes categories in 1775 and added a Malayan race (brown) in 1795. These racial types became the basic anthropological designations used until the mid-twentieth century.


Sources: Carl von Linné, Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, 10th ed. (Stockholm: Laurentii Salvii, 1758-1759); Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, De generis humani varietate nativa (Göttingen, Germany: F. A. Rosenbuschii, 1775); Franck Tinland, L'homme sauvage (Paris: Payot, 1968); Lucien Malson, WolfChildren and the Problem of Human Nature (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972).

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