Fossils and history


Fossils and history

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Carolus Linnaeus is known as the "father of modern taxonomy."

The Linnaean system classified nature within a hierarchy, starting with three kingdoms. Kingdoms were divided into Classes and they, in turn, into Orders, which were divided into Genera (singular: genus), which were divided into Species (singular: species). Below the rank of species he sometimes recognised taxa of a lower (unnamed) rank (for plants these are now called "varieties").

Carolus Linnaeus pioneered the grouping of organisms based on scientific names using Latin. His system of giving an organism a scientific name of two parts, sometimes more, is called binomial nomenclature, or "two-word naming". His scheme was based on physical similarities and differences, referred to as characters. Today, taxonomic classification is much more complex and takes into account cellular types and organization, biochemical similarities, and genetic similarities. Taxonomy is but one aspect of a much larger field called systematics.

Linnaean taxonomy classifies living things into a hierarchy, originally starting with kingdoms. Today, many biologists consider Domains to be a classification above Kingdoms. Kingdoms are divided into phyla (singular: phylum)—for animals; the term division, used for plants, is equivalent to the rank of phylum (and the current International Code of Botanical Nomenclature allows the use of either term). Phyla (or divisions) are divided into classes, and they, in turn, into orders, families, genera (singular: genus), and species (singular: species). Variety (varietas) and form (forma) are ranks below the level of subspecies that are unique to plant classification; "form" has largely fallen out of favor (although some botanists still cling to this rank), and many botanists now prefer to use "subspecies" instead of "variety" although the two are not, strictly speaking, of equivalent rank. Groups of organisms at any of these ranks are called taxa (singular: taxon), or phyla, or taxonomic groups.

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