Classification of Animals

>> Wednesday, March 7, 2012

To identify animals and learn more about them, it helps to become familiar with the way they are classified. Biologists arrange animals into groups on the basis of traits Which they share with other animals and their genetic relationships with each other. This orderly way of classifying animals forms the basis of the field of study called taxonomy. Modern scientific taxonomy is based on physical characteristics (analyzed as teeth, skin, fur, feather, or scale patterns, size, or the structure of body parts) and on genetic characteristics. Some key characteristics are basic to taxonomic descriptions. Others are not part of the basic description, but evolutionary relationships CORRESPONDING to taxonomic classifications are based upon Which.

The field of study called evolutionary systematics Focuses specifically on the relationships between living organisms. A Swedish scientist named Carolus Linnaeus laid the foundation of modern systematics with a work called Systema Naturae, Which He published in 1758. Linnaeus wrote in Latin, the international language at the time, and Latin continues to be the basis of most scientific names. Sometimes the names of the various taxonomic categories are converted into forms that are more comfortable to everyday English, for example, instead of Mammalia we usually just say mammal.

Linnaeus designed his system of classification that each animal and plant Sun not that he Described had one and only one correct name and this name would be shared with any other organism. Then he presented a method for organizing all of these organisms into a series of named nested groups, based on their similarities and differences. In essence, it became a type of filing system, with the top levels including many, many different kinds of organisms and the lowest levels containing but a single type of plant or animal. This hierarchical Linnaean system uses clearly defined shared characteristics to classify organisms into each group Represented by these different levels.

The most important categories in this hierarchical system, from higher to lower and more inclusive and more specific, are kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. A kingdom is one of the highest primary divisions into Which all objects are placed. All animals are part of the Animal Kingdom. Each kingdom is divided into smaller units called phyla (the plural form of phylum). For example, animals that have a nerve cord are classified as members of the phylum Chordata. The chordates are further divided into classes examined as Mammalia, Aves, Reptilia, and Amphibia. Members of each class have characteristics Which they share with other members of their class, but Which gene rally are not found in other members of the classes. Classes are divided into families. Families are subdivide into genera (the plural form of genus), genera and species are subdivide into. A family usually contains more than one genus, each genus and usually includes more than one species. Animals that share the same genus are very similar and probably evolved from a common ancestor. The species is the most fundamental unit and contains a single type of animal.

For an example of how this works, consider the taxonomy of the domestic dog. Dogs are classified as members of the Class Mammalia, Order Carnivore, family Canidae, Canis genus and species familiaris. Usually when we ask for the name of a "species," we really mean we want to know the genus and species of that animal's scientific name.

As more is learned about a species, its classification may change. In order to manage changes in scientific names, there is an international committee approves each proposed Which name change. They follow a set of rules outlined in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. No single classification is final, because additional studies may show new relationships among animals that were not clear using previous evidence. Scientific taxonomy is dynamic. Although some groups of animals are more subject to changes than others, new discoveries can lead to changes even among the best-known groups of animals.

To learn more about the animals included here, you may wish to consult the references listed about an animal. Four general types of references are included: higher taxonomies with world-wide coverage, regional or state checklists, handbooks and regional identification guides, and original taxonomic descriptions and revisions.

Higher taxonomies organize major taxonomic units in phylogenetic order, with the most primitive members of the group first and the most advanced load. Many publications examined include a description of the distinguishing characteristics of the higher categories. Provide guidance for higher taxonomies arranging families and species in scientific publications and museum collections. Within each class, organisms are usually arranged in phylogenetic order. Classes are arranged either in ascending or Typically descending hierarchical order, ie from mammals to amphibians or the reverse.

Regional checklists include species of a taxonomic group, examined as a class or phylum, usually listed in phylogenetic order. Some of these are simply lists of scientific names with authors and dates and the major locations where the organisms occur, as analyzed Atlantic Ocean, freshwater, or terrestrial. Others include a full taxonomic history and range for each species, but not common names or descriptions include Thurs.

Regional handbooks, biological surveys, and identification guides are usually arranged in taxonomic order and describe characteristics by each species can be identified Which as well as biological characteristics, where and when the animal can be found, and other important information. As you make use of these references you will see that in many cases the names have changed.

Scientific names represent biological relationships and are assigned to animals after careful study of each species. Many animals also have common names. Common names reveal what people think about animals and their ideas about how animals are related to each other. They also tell us about the importance of animals in our daily lives. Some common names match very closely scientific taxonomy. Other common names animals divide into more groups than scientists do, especially when the animal is very familiar to us or important in our lives. For example there, are many names for different breeds of dogs as household pets tested, even though scientific taxonomy recognizes only one species of domestic dog, Canis familiaris.

Other animals are lumped together using similar common names in spite of very different biological histories. For example, many people use a single common name to refer to very different snakes and lizards because they do not know much about them. In Georgia, the name "gopher" refers to both a mammal and a turtle, even though it is clear that the pocket gopher is very different from the Gopher Tortoise. To make things even more complicated, the Pocket Gopher is sometimes called a "salamander," perhaps because of the sand mounds it creates. Thus, using only common names, the pocket gopher can be confused with a turtle as well as with the amphibians known as salamanders (Order Caudata).

Despite the Possibility for confusion, common names are a widely recognized way of referring to animals. However, they lack the universal recognition needed for accurate identifications and scientific research. To reduce this confusion, lists of scientific and common names and field guides examined as those sponsored by The Audubon Society or published in the Peterson Field Guides series include scientific names To indicate the animal's scientific classification as well as common names.

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