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Biology 10, Lesson 70 – Taxonomy

The official definition of taxonomy is the “orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships.”[i]  Do not confuse it with taxidermy, which is the process of preserving the bodies of deceased animals.  If you are like me, you may be wondering why something so simple as classifying living organisms needs a fancy name.  It is because the science of taxonomy is incredibly important.  Here’s why.

When the process of taxonomy was first created, there were only two ‘kingdoms’ to classify organisms under: plants and animals.  This worked well until people realized there are organisms that fit under the description of plants and animals.  Eventually, the two kingdoms expanded into five: animal, plant, fungi, protist, and monera.

But even these five kingdoms can be very broad.

The system that we use is known as Linnaean Classification.  It is considered to be the best system because of its binomial nomenclature and its hierarchical nature.  What do these terms mean?  Binomial nomenclature means having two names, genus then species.  For example, the name for a tomato (according to Linnaean Classification) is solanum lycopersicum.

Hierarchical nature means it is classified in the order of life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.  The scientific names are only genus and species so we don’t have long, nine word names for everything.

Taxonomy may seem unnecessary and complicated, and for the common person, it is.  But for biologists researching living organisms, it is good to have a common name for everything.  While the system does have its flaws, it is still advanced enough for scientists to use it and not get confused.

Thanks for reading!

[i] “Taxonomy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Sep. 2022.


Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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