Classification of Living Things : aka "taxonomy"




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Classification of Living Things : aka "taxonomy"

There are lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of different types of organisms out there.  Taxonomy attempts to organize all of these organisms into increasingly smaller & smaller groups until you are left with a group of all the same type of organism (namely, a species).

Today's classification is based mostly on similarities in structure and evolutionary relationships.


WORD BANK


 

autotrophic
eukaryotic
heterotrophic
motile
colony

multicellular
prokaryotic
sessile
unicellular

  1. capable of locomotion (can move from place to place --- walk, fly, swim) MOTILE
    2. not capable of locomotion (movement) SESSILE
    3. composed of more than one cell MULTICELLULAR
    4. composed of only one cell UNICELLULAR
    5. a cell that does not have a membrane-bound nucleus PROKARYOTIC
    6. a cell that does have a nucleus EUKARYOTIC
    7. a number of individual cells that exist as a closely associating group COLONIAL
    8. can synthesize (make) organic compounds (food) from inorganic materials AUTOTROPHIC
    9. must ingest (eat) pre-formed organic materials (food) from its environment HETEROTROPHIC


So we take the wide variety of organisms in a kingdom and subdivide them into other groups. The subgroups (from largest to smallest) are  :

KINGDOM, PHYLUM, CLASS, ORDER, FAMILY, GENUS, SPECIES

These groups can be remembered using this sentence :

King Phyl Came Over For Good Spaghetti.
(The first letter of each word in the sentence is the first letter of each
classification group & they're listed in the correct order.)

In order to illustrate these groups, let's look at the classification of a few animals.


 

GROUP NAME

ORGANISM

HUMAN

CHIMPANZEE

HOUSE CAT

LION

HOUSEFLY

KINGDOM

Animalia

Animalia

Animalia

Animalia

Animalia

PHYLUM

Chordate

Chordate

Chordate

Chordate

Arthropoda

CLASS

Mammal

Mammal

Mammal

Mammal

Insect

ORDER

Primates

Primates

Carnivora

Carnivora

Diptera

FAMILY

Hominidae

Pongidae

Felidae

Felidae

Muscidae

GENUS

Homo

Pan

Felis

Felis

Musca

SPECIES

sapiens

troglodytes

domestica

leo

domestica

Scientific Name

Homo sapiens

Pan troglodytes

Felis domestica

Felis leo

Musca domestica

NOTES :
1) all 5 of the organisms are classified as animals because they are multicellular, have eukaryotic cells, are heterotrophic, & capable of moving (motile)
2) the human, chimp, cat & lion have enough similar characteristics that they are put in the same phylum & in the same class too
3) the defining characteristics of each subgroup (as you go down a column) become more & more specific. the shared characteristics of the members of a kingdom are broad, the shared characteristics of members of a species are very specific.
4) in order for two organisms to be in the same "small" group, they must also be in all the same "big" groups above it. for example : if two organisms are in the same ORDER, they must be in the same class, phylum & kingdom. even though the cat & the housefly have the same species group name (domestica), they CAN'T BE the same species because they are not in the same genus, family, order, etc.  In fact, that last group name (species) doesn't really mean anything all by itself.  The correct, full species name is the organism's two-part scientific name (see #5).
5) REALLY IMPORTANT : every organism is given a scientific name which consists of its genus name (1st) & species name (2nd). This is called binomial nomenclature (bi-nomial = 2-names) & is attributed to Carolus Linnaeus (remember him ?). so a human's scientific name is Homo sapiens, a lion's is Felis leo, a house cat's is Felis domesticas, etc.  In a SCIENTIFIC NAME, the genus name should be capitalized & the species name lowercase, & both should be either italicized or underlined.
6) the closer the evolutionary relationship between two organisms, the more groups they have in common. so of the 5 in this chart, the cat & lion are most closely related (they are classified together in the first 6 groups). A human is more related to a chimp (4 groups in common) than to a lion (only 3 common groups).

TIME FOR SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT SUBGROUPS !

1) Which choice lists the groups in order of decreasing variety ?

A. species, genus, family, phylum


B. genus, species, kingdom, phylum
C. kingdom, phylum, genus, species

2) Which choice is most closely related to Acer rubrum ?

A. Rubrum acer
B. Acer saccharum
C. Quercus acer
D. Quercus rubrum

3) Which is an acceptable way to write the scientific name for humans ?

A. Homo Sapiens
B. Homo Sapiens
C. homo sapiens
D. Homo sapiens

4) Which is true of two plants that belong in the same genus ?

A. they must be in the same family
B. they must be the same species
C. they must be the same color
D. they can't be in the same phylum

5) Who originated the system of binomial nomenclature ?

A. Darwin
B. Linnaeus
C. Hooke
D. Aristotle

THE 5 KINGDOMS

OK. So we have this really big group of living things that exist on earth. To divide them up, we first put them into one of five KINGDOMS. Here they are, with their defining characteristics & some examples.
(you should memorize this)


KINGDOM NAME

KEY CHARACTERISTICS

EXAMPLES

MONERA

UNICELLULAR
PROKARYOTIC

BACTERIA
BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

PROTISTA

MOSTLY UNICELLULAR
EUKARYOTIC
SOME COLONIAL

AMEBA
PARAMECIUM
EUGLENA
ALGAE

FUNGI

MOSTLY MULTICELLULAR
EUKARYOTIC
HETEROTROPHIC
SESSILE

MUSHROOMS
MOLDS & MILDEWS
YEAST (unicellular)

PLANT

MULTICELLULAR
EUKARYOTIC
AUTOTROPHIC
SESSILE
CELL WALLS made  of CELLULOSE

MOSS
FERNS
FLOWERING PLANTS
BUSHES
TREES

ANIMAL

MULTICELLULAR
EUKARYOTIC
HETEROTROPHIC
MOTILE
SPECIALIZED SENSE ORGANS

INSECTS
JELLYFISH, HYDRA
CRABS
FISH
BIRDS
LIONS,TIGERS,BEARS

Back to the stuff about subgroups

Yes, I know it looks like a lot to remember. But who said this wasn't going to require you to WORK ? Here are a couple generalizations that may help you keep some of that table straight :



1) only 1 Kingdom has organisms that are prokaryotic (the Moneran Kingdom)
2) For the most part, any organism that is unicellular & eukaryotic is a Protist (one exception is YEAST, a unicellular fungus)


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