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He is remembered chiefly as the first ornithologist to propose a division of birds into Ratitae (ratites or running birds, with a flat sternum) and Carinatae (carinates or flying birds, with a keeled sternum), which formed part of his classification of birds in Tentamen Systematis Naturalis Avium, published in Berlin in 1816 (in Abhandlugen Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1812-1813: Phys. Kl.).