Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
Born(1723-06-03)3 June 1723
Died8 May 1788(1788-05-08) (aged 64)
Pavia (now Italy)
Occupationplant scientist, pteridologist, chemist, zoologist, ornithologist, physician, biologist, lepidopterologist, arachnologist, mycologist, earth scientist, university professor
Scientific career

Giovanni Antonio Scopoli (sometimes Latinized as Johannes Antonius Scopolius) (3 June 1723 – 8 May 1788) was an Italian physician and naturalist. His biographer Otto Guglia named him the "first anational European" and the "Linnaeus of the Austrian Empire".[1]


Scopoli was born at Cavalese in the Val di Fiemme, belonging to the Bishopric of Trent (today's Trentino), son of Francesco Antonio, military commissioner, and Claudia Caterina Gramola (1699-1791), painter from a patrician family from Trentino. He obtained a degree in medicine at University of Innsbruck, and practiced as a doctor in Cavalese and Venice.[2] Much of his time was spent in the Alps, collecting plants and insects, of which he made outstanding collections.

He spent two years as private secretary to the bishop of Seckau, and then was appointed in 1754 as physician of the mercury mines in Idrija, a small town in the Habsburg realm, remaining there until 1769. In 1761, he published De Hydroargyro Idriensi Tentamina on the symptoms of mercury poisoning among mercury miners.

Copper engraving from the Deliciæ Floræ et Faunæ Insubricæ (1786)
Copper engraving from the Deliciæ Floræ et Faunæ Insubricæ (1786)

Scopoli spent time studying the local natural history, publishing Flora Carniolica (1760) as well as a major work on the insects of Carniola, Entomologia Carniolica (1763). He also published a series of Anni Historico-Naturales (1769–1772), which included first descriptions of birds from various collections.

In 1769, Scopoli was appointed a professor of chemistry and metallurgy at Mining Academy at Schemnitz (now Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia), and in 1777 transferred to the University of Pavia.[2] He became a bitter rival of Lazzaro Spallanzani, who was accused of stealing specimens from the Pavia museum. Spallanzani was tried and the prolonged trial resulted in acquittal. Shortly thereafter, Scopoli died of a stroke.[3] His last work was Deliciae Flora et Fauna Insubricae[4] (1786–1788), which included scientific names for birds and mammals in northwestern Italy described by Pierre Sonnerat in the accounts of his voyages.

Scopoli corresponded with Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist who laid the foundations of modern taxonomy.[1] Scopoli communicated all of his research, findings, and descriptions (for example of the olm and the dormouse, two little animals hitherto unknown to Linnaeus). Linnaeus greatly respected him and showed great interest in his work. Because of a great distance, they never met.[5][6]

Scopoli is frequently mentioned by Gilbert White in his "Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne".


Flora Carniolica (1760)
Flora Carniolica (1760)
Principia mineralogiae systematicae et practicae, 1772
Principia mineralogiae systematicae et practicae, 1772

Some taxa named by Scopoli

See also: Category:Taxa named by Giovanni Antonio Scopoli

Some taxa dedicated to Scopoli

The standard author abbreviation Scop. is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[8]


  1. ^ a b Soban, Branko. "A Living Bond between Idrija and Uppsala". The Slovenian. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b Newton, Alfred 1881. Scopoli's ornithological papers. The Willoughby Society. Scanned version
  3. ^ Mazzarello, Paolo (2004). Costantinopoli 1786: la congiura e la beffa. L'intrigo Spallanzani. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri. ISBN 88-339-1573-5.
  4. ^ Insubria is a historical-geographical region which corresponds to the area inhabited in the past by the Insubres, a Celtic people which dwelt in the 4th–5th centuries BCE. in the area of pre-Alpine lakes and Milan.
  5. ^ Soban, Branko (January 2005). "A Living Bond between Idrija and Uppsala". Slovenija.svet. Slovene Emigrant Association. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  6. ^ Scopoli, Giovanni Antonio (2004). Soban, Darinka (ed.). Joannes A. Scopoli-Carl Linnaeus. Dopisovanje/Correspondence 1760–1775. Ljubljana: Slovenian Natural history society. ISBN 961-90751-2-9.
  7. ^ T. Ings & R. Edwards (2002). "Dolichovespula sylvestris (Scopoli, 1763)". Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  8. ^ IPNI.  Scop.