Classification in biology, is the identification, naming, and grouping of
organisms into a formal system. The vast numbers of living forms are named
and arranged in an orderly manner so that biologists all over the world can
be sure they know the exact organism that is being examined and discussed.
Groups of organisms must be defined by the selection of important
characteristics, or shared traits, that make the members of each group
similar to one another and unlike members of other groups. Modern
classification schemes also attempt to place groups into categories that
will reflect an understanding of the evolutionary processes underlying the
similarities and differences among organisms. Such categories form a kind
of pyramid, or hierarchy, in which the different levels should represent
the different degrees of evolutionary relationship. The hierarchy extends
upward from several million species, each made up of individual organisms
that are closely related, to a few kingdoms, each containing large
assemblages of organisms, many of which are only distantly related.
Carolus Linnaeus is probably the single most dominant figure in systematic
classification. Born in 1707, he had a mind that was orderly to the extreme.
People sent him plants from all over the world, and he would devise a way
to relate them. At the age of thirty-two he was the author of fourteen
botanical works. His two most famous were Genera Plantarum, developing an
artificial sexual system, and Species Plantarum, a famous work where he
named and classified every plant known to him, and for the first time gave
each plant a binomial. This binomial system was a vast improvement over
some of the old descri...
... middle of paper ...
...ly and structurally too dissimilar to the species
categorized above to fit into that scheme of taxonomy.
Although this system is complex and intricate at times, its
universality makes it a necessity. With out the system presently in use the
world would be years and years behind in their task to name all of the
living organisms on earth. This system is great but it is always possible
that some new finding could cause the system to evolve to become more
inclusive. This system is by no means set in stone, and Linnaeus would
probably be astounded to see the way that it has evolved since his original
Berkely University. www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/linnaeus.html/
Galbraith, Don. Understanding Biology. John Wiley and Sons. Toronto.
Microsoft. Encarta Encyclopedia 97. Microsoft Corporation. 1997
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