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Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Taxonomy is the science of classifying organisms. It is a way to classify organisms in order to study and organize all living organisms.

Kingdom All living things are first classified into one of five or six different kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Protista, Fungi, Monera (We are studying Monera as two individual Kingdoms: Archaebacteria and Eubacteria; Viruses are not included within the Kingdoms of life.)

Phylum (or Division) Within each Kingdom organisms are then grouped together according to developmental similarity. Some common Phylums are: Mollusca, Porifera, Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Annelida, Arthropoda, Echinodermata, Chordata

Class Organisms are then further categorized into smaller groups containing members regarded as having certain traits in common. For example, phylum Chordata is broken down into several classes, including Aves, Reptilia, Amphibia, Mammalia among others.

Order The scientific arrangement of organisms before being grouped into families. So Mammalia for example can be broken down into groups such as Rodentia, Primates, Chiroptera, Insectivora (shrews and moles), Carnivora, Perissodactyla, Artiodactyla, Proboscidea and so forth.

Family A group of more closely related organisms. Order Carnivora can be broken down into Canidae, Felidae, Ursidae and more.

Genus Genus is the first part of the 2 part scientific name in binomial nomenclature given to individual species. The family Felidae, for example, can be broken down into Acinonyx (cheetah), Panthera (lion, tiger), Neofelis (clouded leioard) and Felis (domestic cats).

Species Finally the Genus is broken down into Species. This latin name is added to it's genus name to give a species its 2 names. Genus Panthera is broken down into leo and tigris, so the scientific name for a lion would be Panthera Leo.

You can learn a lot about an organism by finding out its Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

Mnemonic device for memorization: Keeping Precious Creatures Organized For Grumpy Scientists

The main lesson objectives in teaching classification are:
  • to identify the main animal kingdoms
  • define a vertebrate
  • identify characteristics of the main animal kingdoms

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