Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.
What Is Classification?
Do you think you have anything in common with a squid, a housefly, or an elephant? In looks alone, you would probably say absolutely not! However, you do indeed have something in common with these creatures and millions of others roaming the earth: you are all classified as animals. What does classification mean, and how is used to organize and identify the animals of the world?
Classification means to organize things according to common characteristics. For example, you might classify clothes in your closet. Do you have your shirts in one area, pants in another, with socks and underwear together? This means you have organized, or classified, them. How about kitchen items? If you have forks grouped together, as well as knives and spoons, they are indeed classified.
But why is it important to classify animals? There are so many animals in the world, it would be nearly impossible to keep track of them all if they were not organized into groups. So, hundreds of years ago, a scientist named Carolus Linnaeus developed a system to categorize and identify animals according to their common traits.
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- 0:04 What Is Classification?
- 1:11 Classification Categories
- 1:53 Kingdom & Phylum
- 2:15 Class, Order & Family
- 2:38 Genus & Species
- 3:07 Lesson Summary
According to the system set up by Linnaeus, all animals are classified into seven categories: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. That's a lot to remember! Try making up your own phrase to help remember the first letter of each word, like this common one:
King Philip Came Over For Great Spaghetti
So, what do all of these words mean? Let's take a walk through each category, classifying a human as our example. It's important to know that these groups start out very large, and branch into smaller categories as we go. Imagine a tree, with one single trunk dividing into many different branches.
Kingdom & Phylum
The first, kingdom, is the largest category of all. It's called Animalia and includes every single animal (even humans) on Earth. From tiny insects to giant mammals, every animal belongs here. Phylum is next, and for humans, this is called Chordata. This is still a very large group of animals, including an enormous variety of different mammals.
Class, Order, & Family
Next we find class, which for humans is Mammalia (mammals). As we continue to narrow down our categories, we come to order next. Humans belong to the order Primata. This group includes some of our very distant cousins: monkeys and apes. Family is next, which is Hominidae for us humans. Here we find even more of our close relatives, such as gorillas and chimpanzees.
Genus & Species
Finally, we come to the very specific genus and species. It is at this point that every animal receives its own unique two-part name. For humans, it is Homo sapiens: Homo is the genus name and sapiens is the species name. Although other human-like creatures of the genus Homo have roamed the earth, only those super-intelligent modern humans like us can claim the name Homo sapiens. We are unique animals, identified by our seven scientific classifications.
Classification is a way of organizing things in a group according to similar characteristics. Animal classification is important because it helps us identify and name all animals on Earth. The categories are defined by scientist Carolus Linnaeus, who developed a system to categorize and identify animals according to their common traits. They are kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species (King Philip Came Over For Good Spaghetti). A human is characterized as Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Primata, Hominidae, Homo sapiens.
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What is Animal Classification?
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