College Papers/Scientific Classification college paper 14339

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Classification is grouping together similar things. It is something that

you have done in your daily life since you were a child. There are many

different ways to classify organisms. There are aquatic and terrestrial

animals. Certain plants can be grouped together as either trees or shrubs

according to their outward appearance. Using these methods is useful for

some purposes. Generally it is more useful to classify organisms in

accordance with their relationships with one another. More to the point

the systems discussed today are the ones used universally and based upon

Carolus Linnaeus' original work. Carolus Linnaeus is probably the single

most dominant figure in systematic classification. Born in 1707, he had a

mind that was orderly to the extreme. People sent him plants from all over

the world, and he would devise a way to relate them. At the age of

thirty-two he was the author of fourteen botanical works. His two most

famous were Genera Plantarum, developing an artificial sexual system, and

Species Plantarum, a famous work where he named and classified every plant

known to him, and for the first time gave each plant a binomial. This

binomial system was a vast improvement over some of the old descriptive

names for plants used formerly. Before Linnaeus, Catnip was known as:

"Nepeta floribus interrupte spicatis pedunculatis" which is a brief

description of the plant. Linnaeus named it Nepeta cataria--cataria

meaning, "pertaining to cats". The binomial nomenclature is not only more

precise and standardized; it also relates plants together, thus adding

much interest and information in the name. For instance, Solanum relates

the potato, the tomato and the Nightshade.

Binomial Classification Early on in naming species taxonomists realized

that there would have to be a universal system of nomenclature. Why? For

example, it would seem to be a lot less complicated to just give a species

a vernacular name that is easy to pronounce. Let's look at the loon of the

North American lakes for example. In English it is called the common loon

in North America. Seems simple enough, but in England it is called the

great northern diver. In French it is plongeon imbrin, in France, and in

Quebec le huart a collier. In Spanish it is called somorguajo comun, Islom

in Swedish, and Eistaucher in German. So you see how much time and calling

the species Gavia immer can save confusion. Binomial classification in its

simplest form is a way of naming a species by means of two names both in

Latin. (binomial nomenclature) It was first introduced by Carolus

Linnaeus. In Binomial classification the first name, which begins with a

capital letter is known as the Genus it is always capitalized. The genus

is a group of species more closely related to one another than any other

group of species. The genus is more inclusive than the species because it

often contains many species. The second part of the binomial represents

the species itself and is always printed with all letters in lower case. A

species is a group of individuals that are alike in many different ways.

Individuals are in the same species if they are: 1. Are able to mate with

those similar to themselves. 2. Produce young that are themselves able to


As an example, in the cat family, the genus Panthera is coupled with the

species leo to form Panthera leo, the Lion. Likewise, Panthera is coupled

with tigris, to form Panthera tigris the Tiger. In simplified terns both

the Lion and Tiger share common traits and a common genus - Panthera,

whilst clearly remaining separate species.

Closely related species are a genus, closely related genera (plural form

of genus) are grouped together in a family. Closely related families are

grouped into an order, and so on, into more inclusive categories, or

levels in the classification hierarchy. Taxonomic Hierarchy Approximately

one and a half million species have been classified and there are

estimates that over five million species remain to be discovered. For

biologists to order this mass of information, a scientific system called

taxonomy was introduced. The basic idea is to group species with similar

characteristics together into families, and to group the families together

into broader groupings. To this end, the taxonomic categories where

devised, and they create the taxonomic hierarchy. The hierarchy goes (with

an example):

*Categories Example

Kingdom Animalia

Phylum (Plural = Phyla) Cordata *In plants, this category is

often called a division* Class Mammalia

Order Carnivora

Family Canidae

Genus Canis

Species Lupus (the Wolf) * Kim Puts Candy Out For Good


Every species is in only one genus. Similarly, every genus is in only one

family, and so forth up the hierarchy. The most inclusive category for

classifying groups of similar organisms is the kingdom. It is argued

exactly how many Kingdoms there are though. Up until recently, only two

kingdoms were generally used, the plant and animal kingdoms. Now however

there are 5 established kingdoms and one controversial unofficial kingdom.

The 5 kingdoms:

1. Kingdom Animalia (The Animal Kingdom)

ex: Multi-cellular motile organisms, which feed heterotrophically


2. Kingdom Plantae (The Plant Kingdom)

ex: Multi-cellular organisms, which feed by photosynthesis (Tulips)

3. Kingdom Protista (The Protist Kingdom)

ex: Protozoa and single-celled algae

4. Kingdom Fungi (The Fungus Kingdom)

ex: Yeast

5. Kingdom Monera (The Monera Kingdom)

ex: Bacteria and blue-green algae

Parallel to these Kingdoms, but not included, are the Viruses. These are

acellular entities with many of the properties of other life forms, but

are genetically and structurally too dissimilar to the species

categorized above to fit into that scheme of taxonomy.


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