Discovering the world is impossible without classification of received information. If there was no system of ordering phenomena and scientific facts

Biological classification system [organisms, living things]

Discovering the world is impossible without classification of received information. If there was no system of ordering phenomena and scientific facts, then none of the strongest minds could manage even a few thousand of titles, whereas modern science operates the millions of them. The main technique used in this case — is the grouping of events and facts by their similarity and affinity in subordinated categories.

Classification of living things is the work of science called biological systematics. Its main task is to build a biological classification system — a plurality of organism species that lived or live in the world, classified according to certain principles. Systematics, perhaps, is the most ancient of biological sciences. It is not surprising, because the taxonomy is considered to be the origin of any science.

Biological classification systems built in different times, are quite different. The ancient philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), founder of zoology, was the first to classify the living things. Despite the fact that he classified only 454 species of animals, the scheme he developed didn’t lose its value up to the time of Linnaeus, who described already 4208 species of organisms.

The merit of outstanding Swedish explorer of nature Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) lies in the fact that he has not only created the first classification system of organisms, but also was the first to formulate the concept of species, stating that as “a set of organisms that are similar to each other as children of the same parents are similar, and capable of producing fertile offspring.” The scientist suggested binary (two-word) Latin names for species: the first word — the name of the genus, and the second — of the species. And, since then, every species has Latin name consisting of two words. It is applicable in any country, regardless of local names. For example, a white hare was named by Linnaeus as Lepus timidus. Word “Lepus” (a hare) — genus name and the word timidus (coward) — a species’. Another prominent German naturalist, full member and a professor of the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences, Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811) described a similar species of brown hare and called it Lepus europaeus (European hare). From the names of these species of mammals it clearly follows that we are talking about the two species of the same genus (diagram 214). Taken from

Diagram 213. Carl Linnaeus
Diagram 214. Related species of mammals: a — white hare; b — brown hare

Another merit of Linnaeus — is the creation of a hierarchical system of subordination of four categories: species, genus, order, and class. The class included a few orders, order — genus, genus — species. Since then, taxa of higher level than species are usually called with one Latin word. Modern taxonomy has 12 hierarchically subordinate taxa (e.g. members of Chordata phylum are classified into subphylums, superclasses, subclasses, superorders, suborders, and so on). The reason of such fractional hierarchy is associated with the need of organisms’ kinship reflection as accurately as possible.

Unlike artificial Linnaeus’ system, based on the similarity of organisms by single feature, nowadays biology uses a natural system, based on the phylogenetic relationships of organisms, which in modern biology are proved not only by the complex of various features or using data of paleontology, but also by researches of molecular structures variability — proteins and DNA.

  • What is the biological classification system?

  • What is the difference between artificial and natural systems?