Sierra College Department of Biological Sciences

Discover the Biological Sciences

The introductory information for this site has been contributed as a joint assignment by students in Bio. Sci. 10.

Taxomomy / Classification

By: Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2008 14:03:30 -0800
Tom McLennan


Definition: The scientific classification of organisms into specially named groups based either on shared characteristics or on evolutionary relationships as inferred from the fossil record or established by genetic analysis.

Taxonomy, much like a scientific alphabet, can be used to form universal names for species and subspecies. In learning the full taxonomic spectrum, a student would gain the ability to look at any species' formal name and understand its common ancestor as well as some specific characteristics. Taxonomy is exactly like learning a new language—one that is used by scientists worldwide. However, instead of taxonomy-specific letters, there are unique prefixes and suffixes that are combined to form full words.

Quoted from <>

"The Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus — the "father of taxonomy" — created the system for naming species that is used by biologists throughout the world. The scientific name of each species consists of two parts:

o        the name of the genus to which it is assigned and

o        the "specific epithet" which identifies the particular species within the genus.

Latin names were used by Linnaeus, but so many species have been discovered since then that now taxonomists simply coin new words and cast the genus name in the form of a Latin noun and the specific epithet as a Latin adjective. Note, too, that the characters of the Roman alphabet are always used even by biologists in countries where different characters are used for ordinary purposes."

Much like breeders look for desired traits, taxonomists look for traits common throughout ancestry. Using a variety of diagrams, ancestry is traced back many generations of evolution in order to determine the correct genus. Specifically, I found it interesting that an alphabet such as taxonomy uses its phrases of classification only after tedious research of evolutionary specie history, from species to genus to family to suborder to order to subclass to class to phylum to kingdom.

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