Science Video Of The Day: What Is Taxonomy?
Hi, Iâm Emerald Robinson, and in this âWhat Isâ video, weâre going to discuss âTaxonomy.â
Taxonomy is a system that biologists use to group organisms based on similar characteristics. Taxonomy is based on a concept called âhomology,â shared characteristics that have been passed down, from a common ancestor.
Although humans have been classifying organisms by various methods since ancient times, Swedish biologist Carolus Linnaeus is considered to be the âfather of modern taxonomyâ. His most famous work, Systema Naturae, established a system we still used today to determine an organismâs scientific name. This system is called binomial nomenclature.
To understand what makes up the binomial nomenclature, we need to start at the top. Classic biological taxonomy usually places an organism into one of five kingdoms: bacteria, protists, plants, fungi, or animals. Each organism is then classified into the following groups: phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. It is the genus and species that make up an organismâs scientific name. For example, the scientific name for humans is Homo sapiens, where âHomoâ is the genus, and âsapiensâ the species.
Sometimes scientists classify organisms using a three âdomainâ system. The three currently accepted domains are:
Archaea, single-celled microorganisms, that tend to live in extreme environments like very high heat or salt concentration;
Bacteria, which are abundant and live in most habitats on Earth, and
Eukaryotes, any organism made of cells which contain a membrane-bound nucleus.
Although we used to classify organisms based on characteristics that could be seen by the naked eye or under a microscope, today we commonly rely on analyzing an organismâs DNA instead.
Scientists will continue to use these means to classify the approximately 15,000 new species that are identified each year.