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Explain the Classification of Living Things

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Classification refers to the categorical organisation of living organisms to help to clarify the relationships between them.  


In the 1700's, Carl Linnaeus proposed the Linnaean system, which focuses on grouping organisms by their unique characteristics.

 

Classification hierarchy

 

It's a seven category system that starts with kingdoms - such as the Animal Kingdom or the Plant Kingdom.

From here, the categories are:

 

Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and finally Species.


Here are a few ways to remember the ordering of the Linnaean system:

 

Mnemonics to remember order of classification

 

But for naming organisms, biologists use the binomial system, meaning that each living thing gets two Latin names, starting with the organism’s genus (to tell us its heritage) and ending with the species.

 

Let’s take an example: have you heard of Homo sapiens? Well, that’s actually us - we're in the 'Homo' genus and part of the 'sapiens' species!

 

Classification - the different kingdoms

 

However, as time has passed, new biological theories and technological advancements such as the microscope have furthered classification greatly.

This invention especially highlighted the internal biological processes within living things, which scientists have used to improve their classification models.

 

In the 1990's, Carl Woese used data from chemical analysis to make the ‘three-domain system’ of classification. He separated living things into three domains:

 

 Archaea:

Thought to be primitive bacteria, we now know that these are a type of prokaryotic cell like bacteria, and are believed to live in extreme areas like hot springs.  

 

 Bacteria

These are true bacteria, but have key characteristics different from Archaea.

 

Eukaryotes

Protists, Fungi, Plants and Animals.

 

An evolutionary tree

 

Finally, sorting organisms based on characteristics helps us to understand their similarities and differences.

Evolutionary trees are diagrams that visually display how closely related different beings are to each other.

 

This can be done for living life forms using up-to-date classification data, but we can also look back and organise extinct beings through what we know from their fossil remains.

 

Now it's time for some questions to see how much you can remember!

In the 1700's, Carl Linnaeus developed a seven group classification system to organise information collected about living beings.

 

Put the groups into their correct order below.

Column A

Column B

1 Largest group
Family
2
Order
3
Class
4
Genus
5
Species
6
Phylum
7 Smallest group
Kingdom

Based on what you know of the Linnaean system, which of the following statements about relationships is true?

The Canidae Family is less closely related than the Rosa Genus

The Eudicotidae Class is less closely related than the Canidae Family

The Lepidoptera Order is less closely related than the Eudicotidae Class

The Eukaryote Domain is less closely related than the Lepidoptera Order

The Domestica species is less closely related than the Eukaryote Domain

The Animal Kingdom is less closely related than the Domestica species

How have technological advancements improved classification?

The Canidae Family is less closely related than the Rosa Genus

The Eudicotidae Class is less closely related than the Canidae Family

The Lepidoptera Order is less closely related than the Eudicotidae Class

The Eukaryote Domain is less closely related than the Lepidoptera Order

The Domestica species is less closely related than the Eukaryote Domain

The Animal Kingdom is less closely related than the Domestica species

Which of these are not eukaryotes?

Insects

Prokaryotes

Arachnids

Protists

Fungi

What is the genus in the binomial name below?

 

A lion

Insects

Prokaryotes

Arachnids

Protists

Fungi

What does the genus tell us about an organism?

The intelligence of the animal

More specific information by being a lower classification level than species

The ancestry of the being

Apart from the genus, the binomial system also includes which other Linnaean category?

Which of Woese's domains would survive in the following environment:

 

A volcanic hot spring

What were the domains proposed by Carl Woese in the 1990's as a new model of classification?

Using visual aids to help to organise living organisms has also improved how we approach classification. 

  • Question 1

In the 1700's, Carl Linnaeus developed a seven group classification system to organise information collected about living beings.

 

Put the groups into their correct order below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

1 Largest group
Kingdom
2
Phylum
3
Class
4
Order
5
Family
6
Genus
7 Smallest group
Species
EDDIE SAYS
So straight away, you probably expected to be asked about the Linnaean system, and it's such a quick way to get some easy marks! If you're not too confident with this order, look back at the Introduction and try learning one of the suggested mnemonics! But in summary, the Linnaean system separates beings into a kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.
  • Question 2

Based on what you know of the Linnaean system, which of the following statements about relationships is true?

CORRECT ANSWER
The Canidae Family is less closely related than the Rosa Genus
The Eudicotidae Class is less closely related than the Canidae Family
The Eukaryote Domain is less closely related than the Lepidoptera Order
The Animal Kingdom is less closely related than the Domestica species
EDDIE SAYS
Well done if you got this one correct!! It was really testing your knowledge of the order of the Linnaean system and also your understanding of what it means when species are classified. To recap, the Linnaean system separates organisms into a kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and, finally, species. Organisms of the same species are more closely related than those in the same genus. The following example might help you to understand this. Modern humans are Homo sapiens, but an extinct early form of human was Homo habilis, who was closely related to us by being in the same genus, but not as closely related as all modern humans, who all are in the sapiens species. This continues across the whole Linnaean system, with kingdoms being the most distant relation, all the way down to species, showing the closest relationship. Well done for completing another activity. Hopefully, you're feeling more confident with this topic now.
  • Question 3

How have technological advancements improved classification?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
In this topic, you are expected to appreciate that developments in science have influenced the way we classify organisms - which is what this question was trying to get at! The understanding of internal characteristics has helped to improve the traditional classification systems, for example, to differentiate between two of Woese's domains - the Archaea and the Bacteria.
  • Question 4

Which of these are not eukaryotes?

CORRECT ANSWER
Prokaryotes
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get this one right? There were some tricky words to identify here. The Eukaryotes domain includes all animals, plants, protists and fungi. Arachnids are spiders - ever heard of arachnophobia - fear of spiders! So, along with insects, they are types of animal and are included in the Eukaryotes domain. Prokaryotes, however, are not included in this group. They are single-celled organisms with no nuclei, while all eukaryotes are multi-celled organisms.
  • Question 5

What is the genus in the binomial name below?

 

A lion

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
So here's an easy question to test your memory on the binomial system of naming organisms. In binomial naming, the first term is the genus and is always written with a capital letter. The second term is the species which is never written with a capital! The whole name is usually written in italics too.
  • Question 6

What does the genus tell us about an organism?

CORRECT ANSWER
The ancestry of the being
EDDIE SAYS
A lot can be discovered about an organism's heritage through its classified genus, especially about its close relations. For example, dogs and wolves are under the same genus of 'Canis', even though they belong to different species. This shows how they are very closely related and explains why they have many similar characteristics. The second option is wrong because genus is a higher group than species, which is the smallest Linnaean group.
  • Question 7

Apart from the genus, the binomial system also includes which other Linnaean category?

CORRECT ANSWER
The species
Species
EDDIE SAYS
So, following on from the last question, in binomial naming, the first term is the genus and the second term is the species that the organism belongs to. To be absolutely correct, the genus should be written with a capital letter and the species with a lower case - for example, Panthera leo and Homo sapiens.
  • Question 8

Which of Woese's domains would survive in the following environment:

 

A volcanic hot spring

CORRECT ANSWER
Archaea
EDDIE SAYS
This is the most obvious question you could possibly get when asked about why Archaea and Bacteria are two separate domains - so it's a good one to know! One of the key differences between archaea and bacteria is that archaea can survive in extreme environments such as hot springs and salt lakes. However, this does not mean that they are only found in these places - research has shown that archaea can also live where bacteria do.
  • Question 9

What were the domains proposed by Carl Woese in the 1990's as a new model of classification?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Woese labelled the overarching three domains for all life forms: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryotes. If you're wondering where all those plants and animals that you are familiar with have ended up - look no further than the final domain! The domain called Eukaryotes includes Protists, Fungi, Plants and Animals.
  • Question 10

Using visual aids to help to organise living organisms has also improved how we approach classification. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Well done if you managed to get all these blanks correct. Evolutionary trees help us to plot diagrams that are easy to follow - they show actual lines that draw links between different organisms. This helps us to understand the distance or closeness in heritage between two beings, using both modern classification data and information from discovered fossils.
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