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Explain the Classification of Living Things

In this worksheet, students will learn to explain how biological models of classification have developed over time after scientific advances in knowledge and technology.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

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


Carl Linnaeus in the 1700's proposed the Linnaean system, which focuses on dividing beings using their unique characteristics.

 

 

It's a 7 category system that starts with kingdoms- like 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:

 

 

But for naming organisms, biologists use the binomial system, meaning 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 'Sapien' species!

 

 

However, as time has passed, new biological theories and technological advancements like 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 3 domains:

 

1. Archaea:

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

 

2. Bacteria

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

 

3. Eukaryotes

Protists, fungi, plants and animals.

 

 

Finally, sorting organisms based on characteristics helps us understand their similarities and differences, like using evolutionary trees.

 

These are diagrams that help to 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.

Carl Linnaeus developed a 7 group classification system in the 1700's to organise information collected about living beings.

Column A

Column B

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

Based on what you know of the Linnaean system, indicate whether the described organisms are more closely or less closely related compared to the organisms ABOVE it.

 

Here is an example: The plants in the plant kingdom are less closely related that the plants in the Genus 'Rosa'.

 

Carry on by comparing the Genus 'Rosa' to the Canidae Family:

 

How have technological advancements improved classification?

Which of these are NOT Eukaryotes?

Insects

Prokaryotes

Arachne

Protists

Fungi

What is the genus in the below binomial name?

Insects

Prokaryotes

Arachne

Protists

Fungi

What does the genus tell us about an organism?

 

[Choose ONE option below]

 

 

The intelligence of the animal

More specific information by being a lower classification level than species

The ancestry of the being

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

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

 

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

 

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

  • Question 1

Carl Linnaeus developed a 7 group classification system in the 1700's to organise information collected about living beings.

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 so look back at the intro and try learning one of the suggested pneumonics! 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, indicate whether the described organisms are more closely or less closely related compared to the organisms ABOVE it.

 

Here is an example: The plants in the plant kingdom are less closely related that the plants in the Genus 'Rosa'.

 

Carry on by comparing the Genus 'Rosa' to the Canidae Family:

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Well done for attempting this question as it really makes you think about how well you understand not only the order of the Linnaean system but also what it means when species are classified. To recap, the Linnaean system separates beings into a kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. Organisms of the same species are more closely related than beings in the same genus, e.g. modern humans are Homo Sapiens, but an extinct early form of humans were the Homo Habilis, who are closely related to us in the same genus, but not as closely related as all modern humans who all are in the Sapien species. This continues across the Linnaean system, with kingdoms being the most distance relation all the way down to species.
  • Question 3

How have technological advancements improved classification?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This topic really wants you to appreciate that development in science has really launched how we classify beings, which is what this question was trying to get at. The understanding of internal characteristics helped advance the traditional classification systems, for example, to differentiate between two of Woese's domains.
  • Question 4

Which of these are NOT Eukaryotes?

CORRECT ANSWER
Prokaryotes
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get this one right? Eukaryotes are animals, plants, protists and fungi. Insects belong to eukaryotes, and so do Arachne which is a term for spiders. Prokaryotes, however, are single-celled organisms with no nuclei while eukaryotes are multicelled organisms, and so this is the correct answer.
  • Question 5

What is the genus in the below binomial name?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
So here's an easy question to test your memory on the binomial system of naming beings. And in binomial naming, the first term is the GENUS.
  • Question 6

What does the genus tell us about an organism?

 

[Choose ONE option below]

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The ancestry of the being
EDDIE SAYS
A lot can be shown 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, showing how they are very closely related, which 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 genus, the binomial system also includes which other Linnaean category?

CORRECT ANSWER
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.
  • Question 8

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

 

CORRECT ANSWER
ARACHAEA
EDDIE SAYS
This is the most obvious question you could get when asked about why Arachaea and Bacteria were placed in separate domains according to Woese, 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 like hot springs and salt lakes. However, this does not mean they are only found in these places, as research has shown that archaea can also live where bacteria do.
  • Question 9

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

 

CORRECT ANSWER
ARACHAEA, BACTERIA AND EUKARYOTES
EDDIE SAYS
Woese labelled the overarching THREE domains for all life forms: ARACHAEA, BACTERIA AND EUKARYOTES!
  • Question 10

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

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on? Evolutionary trees help us plot easy to follow diagrams that show actual lines drawing links between different organisms. This helps us to understand the distance or closeness in heritage between two beings using modern classification data and information from discovered fossils.
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