1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Taxonomy

By


Taxonomy is a hierarchical system for classifying and identifying organisms. This system was developed by Swedish scientist Carolus Linnaeus in the 18th century.

Binomial Nomenclature

Linnaeus's taxonomy system has two main features that contribute to its ease of use in naming and grouping organisms. The first is the use of binomial nomenclature. This means that an organism's scientific name is comprised of a combination of two terms. These terms are the genus name and the species or epithet. Both of these terms are italicized and the genus name is also capitalized.

For example, the scientific name for humans is Homo sapiens. The genus name is Homo and the species is sapiens. These terms are unique and no other species can have this same name.

Classification Categories

The second feature of Linnaeus's taxonomy system that simplifies organism classification is the ordering of species into broad categories. There are seven major categories: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.

A good aid for remembering these categories is the mnemonic device: Keep Plates Clean Or Family Gets Sick.

Some of these categories can be further divided into intermediate categories such as subphyla, suborders, superfamilies, and superclasses. An example of this taxonomy scheme is:
    Kingdom

    Phylum
      Subphylum
      Superclass
    Class
      Subclass
      Superorder
    Order
      Suborder
      Superfamily
    Family
      Subfamily
    Genus
      Subgenus
    Species
      Subspecies

Below is a list of organisms and their classification in this taxonomy system using the major categories. Notice how closely related dogs and wolves are. They are similar in every aspect except species name.

Taxonomy of Organisms

Classification
Brown Bear House Cat Dog Killer Whale Wolf
Kingdom Animalia Animalia Animalia Animalia Animalia
Phylum Chordata Chordata Chordata Chordata Chordata
Class Mammalia Mammalia Mammalia Mammalia Mammalia
Order Carnivora Carnivora Carnivora Cetacea Carnivora
Family Ursidae Felidae Canidae Delphinidae Canidae
Genus Ursus Felis Canis Orcinus Canis
Species Ursus arctos Felis catus Canis familiaris Orcinus orca Canis lupus
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Biology
  4. Evolution
  5. Taxonomy - Classifying and Identifying Organisms

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.