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About Classification - An Overview

To help us understand all the many living things on Earth, scientists group them by their similar traits. This is called, Biological Classification. From elephants to algae, all living things (organisms) have a classification tree leading to their species name. The way we classify animals and plants was created by a scientist named Linnaeus.

Biological classification begins with the biggest groups (Domains) and gets smaller and smaller as they are broken down further to an organism's species name. Though this may sound complicated, once you understand how classification works, it will really help you understand how living things are grouped together. The Linnaeus system classifies plants and animals on eight levels, using Latin and Greek words. With the development of genome science, the biological connection between animals is beginning to change and eventually there will be a more accurate classification system. But for now scientists accept the classic Linnaeus system which can be shown in the following way.

There are eight main levels of classification at this time (due to changing classification, this may be updated over time). As of 2008, this is the accepted Biological classification:

Domain (Super-kingdom)
Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species

For example, the Eastern Chipmunk is classified in the following way:
Domain     Eukaryota     multiple-celled organism
Kingdom    Animalia       animal
Phylum      Chordata      has backbone
Class         Mammalia     has backbone, nurses young
Order         Rodentia      has backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth
Family        Scuridae      has backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth, bushy tail
Genus        Tamias        has backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth, bushy tail, climbs trees
Species       striatus       has backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth, bushy tail, climbs trees, stripes

Read about how classification works and discover the group in which your favorite animals are classified, including YOU!

About Classification  - An Overview
About Classification  - An Overview

*See a higher resolution version for printing out in pdf format below.

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Classification of Living Things Flip Chart Set
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  8.    Arachnids
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Classification of Living Things Flip Chart Set

Citing Research References

When you research information you must cite the reference. Citing for websites is different from citing from books, magazines and periodicals. The style of citing shown here is from the MLA Style Citations (Modern Language Association).

When citing a WEBSITE the general format is as follows.
Author Last Name, First Name(s). "Title: Subtitle of Part of Web Page, if appropriate." Title: Subtitle: Section of Page if appropriate. Sponsoring/Publishing Agency, If Given. Additional significant descriptive information. Date of Electronic Publication or other Date, such as Last Updated. Day Month Year of access < URL >.

Here is an example of citing this page:

Amsel, Sheri. "About Classification - An Overview" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2017. May 23, 2017
< http://www.exploringnature.org/db/view/628 >

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