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When you wish upon a star: JNIS is indexed in Medline!
  1. Robert W Tarr
  1. Correspondence to Dr R W Tarr, Department of Radiology, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, 11100 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA; robert.tarr{at}

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When you wish upon a star

Dreams will take you very far

When you wish upon a dream

Life ain't always what it seems

Once you see your light so clear

In the sky so very dear

-Earth Wind and Fire; 1974

The need to classify and order the world around us is one of the oldest instincts of mankind. I would imagine as the earliest humans began to communicate with one another the necessity of classifying plants into edible or poisonous and animals into easy prey or harmful predators began this human impulse to order his surrounding environment.

One of the earliest recorded classification systems is that which is used to order living things. Aristotle (384–322 BC) classified animal species in his work The History of Animals, and his pupil, Theophrastus (371–287 BC) is identified as the originator of plant classification with his work, The History of Plants. The work of Aristotle and Theophrastus was refined by Carolus Linnaeus in the mid 1700s. Since that time the classification of living things has evolved from a two kingdom system into a six kingdom …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.