Classification is the method used by scientists to order living organisms. All species have a unique classification that results in a binomial name. Vertebrates are an example of a classification group. Keys can be used to help to identify individual organisms.
Kingdom to species
You will remember from your Key Stage 3 studies that species with similar characteristics are put into groups, and that this is called classification. Remind yourself of the basics of classification.
The first rank in this system is called a kingdom. There are five kingdoms, based upon what an organism's cells are like:
- animalia (all multicellular animals)
- plantae (all green plants)
- fungi (moulds, mushrooms, yeast)
- prokaryotae (bacteria, blue-green algae)
- protoctista (Amoeba, Paramecium).
There are several further ranks before we reach a particular species. In order, these are:
For example, lions have the following classification:
- kingdom - animal
- phylum - vertebrate
- class - mammal
- order - carnivorous
- family - cat
- genus - big cat
- species - lion.
One way to remember this is by using a daft sentence like this one:
"Kevin plays clarinet or flute - grotty sound!"
All organisms are known by their binomial name which is the genus and species eg Homo sapiens – modern humans
Classification - Higher tier
Being able to classify species is important to scientists as it allows them to accurately identify individual species wherever they are. For example - a robin in America isn’t the same as a robin in the UK so by using the binomial name Turdusmigratorius (American robin) or Erithacusrubecula (UK robin) then there is no confusion.
Binomial classification is important because it can:
- clearly identify species
- study and conserve species
- target conservation efforts.
The first big division of living things in the classification system is to put them into one of five kingdoms. These are based on what an organism's cells are like. This table shows the names of the kingdoms, the characteristics and examples of the sort of organisms they contain:
KingdomsKingdomCharacteristics and Examples Animalia Multicellular, no cell wall or chlorophyll, heterotrophic feeders. Examples: all multicellular animals, including: jellyfish, worms, arthropods, molluscs, echinoderms, fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds and mammals Plantae Multicellular, have cell walls and chlorophyll, autotrophic feeders. Examples: all green plants, including: algae, ferns and mosses (plants that do not produce seeds), conifers and flowering plants (plants that do produce seeds) Fungi Multicellular, have cell walls, do not have chlorophyll, saprophytic feeders. Examples: moulds, mushrooms, yeast Protoctista Usually unicellular, with a nucleus eg amoeba. Examples: amoeba and paramecium Prokaryotes Unicellular, with no nucleus eg bacteria. Examples: bacteria
It can be easy to classify a species. For example, we are Homo sapiens.
Classification of speciesRankClassificationNotes kingdom animalia phylum chordates animals with a supporting rod running the length of the body eg backbone class mammals animals that are warm-blooded, have lungs…