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Contents: Human taxomony | Domain - Phylum Table | History | Terms | Books | links
Bacteria | Protozoa | fungi | Plants | Animals (invertebrates | vertebrates) | Mammals | Primates

Taxonomy is the classification of similar organisms into a group called a taxon (plural taxa).
The traditional classification of living organisms established by Swedish Naturalist, Carolus Linnaeus, in 1758 had two kingdoms, animal and vegitable, and a seven level hirearchy down to genus and species. Darwin's theory of evolution in 1859, and DNA analysis since 1960 have resulted in many proposals for new systems such as Systematics & Cladistics. Around 1990 a three level domain system above the traditional kingdoms was proposed after the discovery of archaea (ancient bacteria) by Carl Woese. See more in the Introduction below.

See A Brief History of the Kingdoms of Life | Earthling Nature


Domain Bacteria

Kingdom Bacteria - Single celled organisms prokaryotes [no nucleus]). Bacteria inhabit soil, water, and the deep portions of Earth's crust. Bacteria also live in symbiotic and parasitic relationships with plants and animals.

Domain Archaea

Kingdom Archaea - Single celled organisms (prokaryotes [no nucleus]) with distinctive cell membranes. Archaea were initially viewed as extremophiles living in harsh environments, such as hot springs and salt lakes, but they have since been found in a broad range of habitats, including soils, oceans, marshlands and the human colon and navel.

Domain Eukarya*

Kingdom Protoctista or Protista - e.g. Protozoa, Green Algae, Slime mold, ...

Kingdom Plantae - e.g. Mosses, grasses, flowering plants, shrubs, vegetables, fruit trees, conifers, ...

Kingdom Animalia - e.g. Sponges, jellyfish, coral, worms, oysters, fish, reptiles, insects, birds, mammals, ...

Kingdom Fungi - Mushrooms, Penicillium (from which Penicillin is derived) molds, athlete's foot, rusts, yeasts

Kingdom Chromista - Diatoms, kelps, golden algae, yellow-green algae, downy mildew

* Eukarya - Single or multi-celled organisms with a cell nucleus.

Class # of Species
Known Projected
to be
Fish 34,000 10,000
Birds 10,000 2-3/year
Mammals 5,500 1/year
Amphibains- frogs, toads and salamanders 6,600 9,000
Reptiles 9,000 1,000
Flowering plants 270,000 94,000
Estimates for others, invertebrates (insects, crustaceans and earthworms), algae, fungi, mosses and gymnosperms, bacteria and others vary widely from 5 to 100 million species.

In the 108 years from 1898 to 2006, 57 kinds of freshwater fish declined to extinction in North America. The causes include damming of rivers and streams, the draining of ponds and lakes, the filling in of springheads, and pollution, all due to human activity.
Paleontologists and biodiversity experts estimate that since the existence of modern humans (200,000 years ago) the rate of extinction is between 100 to 1,000 times higher than it was before humans.
Source: A Biologist's Manifesto for Preserving Life on Earth - E.O. Wilson | Sierra Club

Example of Human Classification: (Items in parenthesis were not part of original 7 level system):
Some of the groups come from new methods of classification (e.g. Cladistics) and would not be included in the traditional scientific classification system.
Domain - Eucarya - Multi-celled with nucleus
 Kingdom - Animala or Metazoa - Can move around, specalized sense organs,...
  (Subkingdom) - Metazoa or Eumetazoa - Distinguishes the rest of the animals from sponges
    Note: The second classification above, K: Metazoa and SK: Eumetazoa, tends to be more popular now.
   (Branches) - bilateria:  coelomate:  deuterostome 
    (Grade) - Bilateral - bilaterally symmetrical (left/right)
    (sub-grade) - Coelomata - True body cavities
    (SuperPhylum) - Deuterostomia - Develop (embryo) mouth second
     Phylum - Chordata - Hollow nerve cord
       Some places show SuperPhylum = Chordata and
      Phylum = Craniata - bilateral symmetry, bone and/or cartilage
           (Plants use Division instead of phylum)
      (Subphylum) - Vertebrate - backbone
       Euteleostomi - Bony vertebrates
       (Superclass or Infraphylum) - Gnathostomata - jawed vertebrates.
        Newer, cladistic, classifications include 3 other levels here:
          Teleostomi (Dermal bone, fin rays)
           Euteleostomi (bony vertebrates)
            Sarcopterygii (Lobe-Fin)
           Tetrapoda - Four footed gnathostomes - Can live on land.
        Class - Mammalia - Hair, Mammary glands for nursing young
         (Subclass) - Theria - Live births.
                     All mammals except monotremes - egg laying e.g. platypus.
         (Infraclass) - Eutheria - Placental (unborn children carried in the uterus)
          (SuperOrder) - Euarchontoglires
          Order -  Primate - (Monkeys) - Binocular vision (forward eyes) - opposable thumbs 
           (Suborder) - Haplorrhini (Anthropoidea & Tarsiodea) - Simple dry nose
                    Rotating sholder and elbow joints allowing them to swing from their arms.       
           (Infraorder) - Catarrhini - Downward facing, narrow nostrils
                       or Simiiformes
            (Parvorder) - Catarrhini
             (Superfamily) - Hominoidea (Apes) Absence of tails, rounded molars, color vision.
              Family - Hominidae - (Great apes) - Complex social behaviors, larger body,
                                Skeletal modifications for semi-upright posture, 32 teeth
              (SubFamily) - Homininae (hominines) - Gorilla, Chimp, Human
               (Tribe) - Hominini or hominins - canine tooth, which looks more like an incisor.
                                          Toe bone improved for moving bipedally.
                Genus - Homo "man" - Larger brain
                 Species - Homo Sapien "wise" - Language, more sophisticated tools.
                  Sub-species (breed, race 3 , strain)
                   Variety (plants)
                    Form or cultivar (plants)
                     Individual (Plants)
Although there are 7 main taxa in the original model, we see above a total of 22 taxa from sub-divisions added over time to further distinguish different branches.

Homo Sapien Lineage at Taxonomy Browser at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Domain: Eukaryota; Kingdom: Metazoa; Eumetazoa; Bilateria; Coelomata; Deuterostomia; Phylum: Chordata; subphylum: Craniata; Vertebrata; superclass:Gnathostomata; Teleostomi; Euteleostomi (bony vertebrates); Sarcopterygii; Tetrapoda; Amniota (amniotes); Class: Mammalia; Theria; Eutheria (placentals); SuperOrder: Euarchontoglires; Order: Primates; Suborder: Haplorrhini; Infraorder: Simiiformes; Parvorder: Catarrhini; Superfamily: Hominoidea; Family: Hominidae; Homo/Pan/Gorilla group; Genus: Homo; Species: Homo sapiens;

Evolution of classifications
The Binomial Nomenclature (Genus, Species) introduced by Swedish Naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (Karl von Linné), the father of modern taxonomy, in the mid-1700's lasted for 200 years. Taxonomy has changed technologically as the field of biology has progressed.

The classifications of living organisms has evolved from two kingdoms (animal and vegitable) to six kingdoms to the current (2004) system of three Domains. As recently as 2000 35 new species were defined just for primates. See History below.

Historically, classification has been by comparison of anatomy since 1960, use of molecular tools has allowed classification based on differences in DNA (and proteins) to identify common ancestries (a shared genetic heritage).
See history below.

Major redesigns of the classification system, using PhyloCodes, are being proposed based on Systematics & Cladistics. See Phylogenetic Tree and Cladistic classification at the evolution page. .

Unfortunatly Zoologists and Botanists have different views on how things should be classified.

The following has the most common Phylums but it is not complete. There is little consistency in the reference books and web pages in this area. The following it an attempt to list the most common classification as of 2006, but it seems to be a moving target.
There are currently proposals to replace the Linnean System with a new PhyloCode.
Note: Viruses are made up of genetic material not complete cells, so are not considered living organisms.

Common Phylums:
Domain Kingdom Phylum  
Proteobacteria Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, such as rhizobium, in the root nodules of legumes, as well as enteric bacteria that live in the intestinal tract of animals (including E. Coli). Includes both Chemoautotrophic (free living) and Chemoheterotrophic (parasitic), like Salmonella.
Cyanobacteria Includes most bacterial photosynthesizers. Originally they were called blue-green algae because of their ability to photosynthesize, but were reclassified when it was found that they are more similar to bacteria, existing as prokaryotic cells. Produced the oxygen in early Earth.
Gram-Positive Eubacteria Display unique staining patterns when exposed to certain gram stains. Includes species of streptococci that causes strep throat.
Spirochetes Helical bacteria that all are chemoheterotrophs (parasitic). Includes Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis.
ChlamydiaeIntracellular parasites that get vitamins, amino acids, ATP, and other vital cellular molecules from their host cell. Some cause venereal disease others a type of pneumonia.
ARCHAEA CRENARCHAEOTA Pyrodictium, Thermoproteus A new group of micro-organisms were discovered in the Open Sea in 1970 and assigned their own domain in 1994.
They live in extremes of heat/cold, salinity and acidity.
Plants & Animals
(single-celled organisms)

Classification sche-
mes for the protists
are numerous.
Some divide the kingdom into subkingdoms then
phila; some into classes.

Chlorophyta Green Algae
Algal Protozoans
  Red Algae
  Brown Algae
dinoflagellates (Red tides)
Golden Algae
Fungus-like Protists
(slime molds)
Kingdom Division  
Zygomycota tube fungi, including some rusts, bread molds, water molds and others
Ascomycota sac fungi including yeasts, powdery mildews, cup fungi, blue and green molds, some bread molds and others
Basidiomycota club fungi, including most mushrooms, toadstools, bracket fungi, shelf fungi, puffballs, smuts and rusts.
Chytridiomycota chytrids
  lichens are not a single organism, but rather a symbiotic association between a fungus and an alga.
Deuteromycota A miscellaneous junk category for forms of uncertain affinity, including those fungi in which sexual reproduction is unknown. It is not treated formally in more recent systems, although it is still used widely by plant pathologists.
CHROMISTA Phaeophyta kelp
Bacillariophyta Diatoms
Haptomonada haptophytes
Oomycota rusts and mildews
PLANTAE Bryophyta nonvascular (no roots, stems, or leaves) e.g. mosses and liverworts
Pterophyta ferns and relatives
Coniferophyta cone-forming seed plants, conifers (gymnosperms)
Anthophyta fruit-forming seed plants - flowering plants (angiosperms), trees, Maple, Oak, Roses, tulips, sunflower, water lilie
DomainKingdom Sub-
Superphylum Phylum Sub-Phylum
Plants & Animals
Animalia Parazoa   Porifera (sponges )
"mouth second")2
Chordata 1 (with a nerve cord) (fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, mammals) VERTE-
Hemichordata (Acorn worms, graptolites)
Echinodermata (starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, etc. ) Inverte-
(molting animals)
Arthropoda (Insects, Spiders, lobster, crab, shrimp, scorpions )
Cephaloryncha (radialian worm )
Nematoda (roundworms )
Nematomorpha (gordian horsehair worms )
Onychophora (velvet worms )
(worms, molluscs, & lophophorates)
mollusca (oysters, snails, slugs, scallop, octopus, squid and clams )
Annelida (Segmented worms, leeches )
Brachiopoda (lamp shells )
Bryozoa ("moss animals")
  Cnidaria (jellyfish, coral and sea anemones, and hydra. )
Platyzoa Platyhelminthes (flatworms )
Vendian Animals (the First animals )
1. There are two Cordata sub-phylums which are not vertebrates:
Urchordata - Sea squirts
Cephalochordata - Jawless Fish - Lamprey, Hagfish, Lancelets

2. Deuterostome means "mouth second"; which refers to early embryo development. The other major group of bilateria animals, protostomia, develops the mouth first. See below.

See Eukarya for a 9 Kingdom model and list of 33 Phylums for Animalia.

There are estimated to be a total of 5-9 million species.
A team including Dr Derek Tittensor, who is based at the UN Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (Unep-WCMC) and Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, and peers from Dalhousie University in Canada and the University of Hawaii placed the number at 8.7 million from studying relationships between the branches and leaves of the "family tree of life".
The figure excludes bacteria and some other types of micro-organism.

About 1.2 million species have been formally described.

[ ] - Number of Species

* DOMAIN BACTERIA (Eubacteria) (formerly Monera or Prokaryota See history.) [4,800 known, est. up to 5 Million]
Any organism, including the bacteria and cyanobacteria; characterized by the lack of a defined nucleus, and the possession of a single double-stranded DNA molecule and a very small range of organelles; almost all such organisms are unicellular and have a true cell wall containing peptidoglycan.
Very few bacteria species have been given a scientific name. One Norwegian study found between 4000 and 5000 bacterial species in a single gram of soil.
Blue-green algae, which accounted for most of the oxygen created in the early earth 2.5 milliion years ago, are now classified as bacteria (cyanobacteria) because they have no nucleus.
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Heterotrophic Bacteria
Gram-positive Bacteria
Green Nonsulfur Bacteria
Green Sulfur Bacteria
Purple Bacteria
Spirochaetes (yphilis and Lyme disease are caused by these)

* DOMAIN ARCHAEA (Archaebacteria)
In 1970 a new group of microorganisms were discovered in the Open Sea. Since then, they had been found mostly in extreme environments such as high-temperature volcanic vents on the ocean floor, continental hot springs and fumeroles, and highly salty or acidic waters.
Archaea is sometimes classed as a Kindom. In the early 1990's Carl Woese proposed they be assigned a new high level classification, Archaea. See history below
Archaea at: trishul.sci.gu.edu.au, John Kimball's site and UCMP - Univ. of California Museum of Paleontology.


  • Thermofilum
  • Methanogens (Live in anaerobic environments such the muck of swamps and marshes, the rumen of cattle, sludge)
  • Halophiles (These are found in extremely saline environments such as the Great Salt Lake in the U.S. and the Dead Sea.)
  • Thermoacidophiles (Like acid and hot environments. Live in acidic sulfur springs (e.g., in Yellowstone National Park) and undersea vents ("black smokers").
  • Others: Methanococci, Methanopyri, Archeoglobi, Thermococci
* DOMAIN EUCARYA (Eukaryota) - (Plants and Animals)
See Eukaryota at UCMP, John Kimball
 - KINGDOM PROTISTA [est. 250,000]
  • Protozoa - Divisions Sarcodina/Rhizopoda (e.g. amoebas), Sporozoa/Apicomplexa (e.g.Plasmodium vivax, which causes malaria), Mastigophora/Zoomastigophora (e.g. Trypanosoma gambiense, which causes African sleeping sickness), Ciliophora (fresh water organisms and use cilia to move)
  • Algae - Divisions Rhodophyta (red algae), Phaeophyta (brown algae, kelp) and Chlorophyta (green algae, spirogyra), Chrysophyta (golden algae, Diatoms), Pyrophyta (Dioflagellates),
  • Fungus-like Protists - Division Myxomycota (slime molds)
 - KINGDOM FUNGI [69,000 known] - molds, fungi, yeasts, mushrooms, Lichens
SEE: UCMP, Kimball's pages.

 - KINGDOM PLANTAE [270,000 known] --

  • Division Bryophyta-- nonvascular (no roots, stems, or leaves) e.g. mosses and liverworts
  • Division Pterophyta--ferns and relatives
  • Division Coniferophyta-- cone-forming seed plants conifers (gymnosperms)
  • Division Anthophyta-- fruit-forming seed plants - flowering plants (angiosperms)
    • Class Dicotyledonae- plants with one seed leaf e.g., geranium, carrot, maple
    • Class Monocotyledonae- plants with two seed leaves e.g., lily, grass, bamboo, palm  
    See Plant Classifications (annual/perenial, Deciduous/Evergreen etc.) at ND State Univ.
 - KINGDOM ANIMALIA/METAZOA [est. >6-7 Million]
Animals are also classified into grades/sub-kingdoms as follows:
 "Parazoa" [subkingdom] - No true tissue or loose tissue organization. (sponges)
 "Eumetazoa" [subkingdom] - True tissue
  "Radiata" [grade] -  Only top and bottom - Jellyfish, corals
  "Bilateria" [grade] - Bilaterally symmetrical (left/right)    
   "Acoelomata" [sub-grade] - Flat worms
   "Pseudocoelomata" [sub-grade] - Round worms
   "Coelomata" [sub-grade] - True fluid filled body cavities
    "Protostomia" - Develop mouth first - Earthworms, Molluscs, Anthropods, ...
    "Deuterostomia" - Develop anus first - Chordata (Vertibrates,..),
                                     Echinodermata (star fish, urchins, ...)
  • Phylum Chordata (animals with a nerve chord) [45,820]
      - Sub-Phylum: Vertebrata [52,000 ?]
      Vertebrates also differ from all the other animals by having quadrupled their HOX gene cluster; that is, vertebrates have 4 clusters of HOX genes located on 4 different chromosomes.
    • Fish [21,723]
    •   Class Agnatha - Jawless fish/lamprey
    •   Class Chondrichthyes - Sharks, skates, rays
    •   Class Osteichthyes - bony fishes: bass, tuna, salmon
        Tetrapods (terrestrial vertebrates)
    • Class Amphibia Amphibians [4,334] - frogs, toads and salamanders
    • Class Aves Avians[>9,000] - Birds
    • Class Reptilia Reptiles[6,778] - snakes, crocodiles and alligators
          subclass Archosauria - Dinosars
    • Class Synapsida - (extinct) Early (300 mya) predecessor to mammals (looked like reptiles)
           Order: Therapsida - Therapsids became the dominant land animals during
                the Middle Permian. Mammals evolved from them.
    • Class Mammalia Mammals [5,400]
        - Sub-Class - Eutheria (Placentals: Mammals in which the young develop in a placenta inside the uterus.)
      • Order: Insectivora - Insect eating - Shrews, moles
      • Order: Carnivora - Meat eating - dog, cat, lion, bear, racoon, seal
      • Order: Chiroptera - bat
      • Order: Primates [310*]- monkeys, apes
           In older classifications, the Primates were divided into two suborders: Prosimii (lemurs and tarsiers) and Anthropoidea (Anthropod - monkeys, apes, humans). See primates at Wikipedia
           Sub-Order - Haplorrhini
        • Infraorder Tariiformes (Tarsiers)
        • Infraorder Simiiformes
           Family: Hylobatidae
        • SuperFamily: Catarrhini
        • SuperFamily: Hominoidea (hominoids) (Apes)
           Family: Hylobatidae: Gibbons
           Family: Hominidae1 (Great apes)
              Subfamily: Ponginae - orangutans
              Subfamily: Homininae
                  Genus: Gorilla - Gorilla
                  Genus: Pan - chimpanzees, Bonobo (pygmy chimp)
                Hominid (Tribe Hominini)
                  Genus: Australopithecus (extinct)
                  Genus: Homo
                      Species: H. sapiens - man/humans 3
                      Species: Others (all extinct) neanderthalensis, floresiensis, erectus, habilis, ...
                      Neanderthal's are sometimes classified as a subspecies.
           Sub-Order - Strepsirrhini (lemurs, lorises, ..)
      • Order: Rodentia - Rats, mice
      • Order: Lagomorpha - Jackrabbit
      • Order: Perissodactyla - Horse, Rhinoceros
      • Order: Artiodactyla - pig, cow, sheep, deer
      • Order: Cetacea - whale, dolphin, porpoise
      • Order: Pinnipedia - seals, sea lions
      • Order: Marsupialia - Koala, Opossum
      • Order: Proboscidea - Elephant
      • Order: Xenarthra - Armadillo, Two-toed Sloth
      • Order: Sirenia - Manatee
      • Order: Tubulidentata - Aardvark
      • Order: Others: Dermoptera (Colugo), Hyracoidea (Rock Hyrax), Monotremata (Short-beaked Echidna), Pholidota (Giant Pangolin)
    - Sub-Phylum: Invertebrata. [est. >6 Million 95-99% of all animal species]
  • Phylum Porifera - sponges [5,000 known]
  • Phylum Cnidaria (Coelenterata) [9,000 known] - hydra, jellyfish, sea anemone, and the coral
  • Phylum Platyhelmintes [20,000 known] - worms with flattened bodies, such as the planarian, tapeworm and liver fluke
  • Phylum Nematoda [25,000 known] - roundworms such as the ascaris, pinworm, hookworm, stomach worm and the trichina or pork worm.
  • Phylum Annelida [12,000 known] - worms with bodies made of segments such as the sandworm, leech and the earthworm.
  • Phylum Mollusca [50,000 known] - oysters, snails, slugs, scallop, octopus and clams
  • Phylum Arthropoda [est. 6 Million - 75-84% of all known animal species]
    •   Subphyla (or SuperClass) Hexapoda
          Class Insecta [>1 Million known] --butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, fly, mosquito, moth. 90% of anthropod species, 65-75% of all species.
            (Estimates of total insect species range from 2 to 30 million.)
            See aquatic insects under fly-fishing.
          Non-insect (Entognatha): Collembola, Protura, and Diplura - Minute arthropods mostly found in leaf litter and soil. e.g. Springtails
    •   Class Crustacea [50,000] --shrimp, crayfish, crabs
    •   Subphyla Myriapoda [13,000]
          Class Chilopoda--centipedes
          Class Diplopoda--millipedes
    •   Subphyla Chelicerata [75,000]
          Class Arachnida [75,000]--spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites
          Class Merostomata [1]--horseshoe "crab"
  • Phylum Echinodermata [6,100 known] - starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers
* In June 2000 the number of recognized species of primate was increased from 275 to 310 following a meeting of primatologists, conservationists, and taxonomists in Orlando, Florida. A number of species were reclassified using molecular genetic research, behavioural observations, and anatomical evidence. Brazil has 77 species of primate, far more than any other country.

1. Until recently, most classifications included only humans in the family Hominidae; other apes were put in the family Pongidae. The evidence linking humans to gorillas and chimps has grown dramatically in the past two decades, especially with increased use of molecular techniques. It now appears that chimps, gorillas, and humans form a clade of closely related species; See Hominidae at Primates.com

The the chimpanzee/human split occurred between five and seven million years ago.

 Sometimes Homo Sapiens (wise man) are divided into sub-species or race
          (see below) as:
  Homo Sapien Neanderthal (some classify them as their own species
                                            Homo neanderthalensis)
       Existed between 230,000 and 30,000 years ago. The average brain size
       is slightly larger than that of modern humans, about 1450 cc,
       but this is probably correlated with their greater bulk.
  Homo Sapien Sapien (Modern Man) (Average brain size of about 1350 cc.) 
                                            (150,000-120,000 years ago)
  Homo sapiens (archaic) (also Homo heidelbergensis) (200,000-350,000 years ago)
                       (Average brain size of about 1200 cc.)
  Homo erectus (1.8 mya to 300,000 years)
  Homo habilis (Handy man) 2.4 - 1.5 mya)
  Hominid 4 mya
  See:  Eukarya for another version.
Evolution, Hominid Species, and A Phylogeny of Living Hominoids.
Primate Taxonomy at U. Manitoba.
Subspecies are animal groups that are related, can interbreed, and yet have characteristics that make them distinct from one another. Two basic ingredients are critical to the development of separate subspecies: isolation and time. Unlike most animals, humans are a relatively young species and we are extremely mobile, so we simply haven't evolved into different subspecies.

Many other animal species have been around much longer or they have shorter life spans, so they've had many more opportunities to accumulate genetic variants.

Domesticated animals such as dogs also have a lot of genetic diversity, but this is mostly due to selective breeding under controlled conditions.

Many articles refer to Neanderthal as a race. I think they are using race to distinguish from the "human race" not the what we refer to as different races today.

When it comes to using "race" as a classification, race is not a scientifically-precise term. Genetically speaking, there is less than a 1% difference between negroids, caucasoids and mongoloids. Humans of different races are more than 99% alike genetically. Race is more of a political and quasi-biological term.
Source The Politics of Egyptology and the History Kemet (Egypt)

Other Animal Sites:
Animalia Kingom at North Harris College
Rennisance Animal Classification

Living Organism
One or more biological cells. All living organisms can replicate, and the replicator molecule is DNA. As well, all living organisms contain some means of converting the information stored in DNA into products used to build cellular machinery from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Cells without membrane bounded nuclea (bacteria)
Organisms with cells that have nuclea
See Bacteria at John Kimball's Biology Pages
Biological Species Concept (BSC) or Mayrian Species Concept (in honor of its principal architect, Ernst Mayr)
States that if two creatures can produce viable offspring, they are the same species. There are many exceptions to this rule.
History of Taxonomy
  • 350 BC - Aristotle - living things were animated by a vital force different from anything found in nonliving matter. This force was interpreted as a perfecting principle, operating to improve the living world. Out of this concept was developed the "scale of nature" idea that suggested living things were arranged on a scale of perfection, with man at the top.
    He originated the concept of genera (used in a much broader sense than present-day biologists use the term) and then distinguished the species.
  • 300 BC - Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle, classifies 500 plants under herbs, shrubs, pre-shrubs & trees.
  • Middle Ages - Early Christian theologians (Augustine 354-430 and Thomas Aquinas 1225-1275) rejected a literal interpretation of the story of special creation (which is common to most religions) and suggested instead a naturalistic interpretation patterned after Aristotle. A refutation of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and an insistence on a literal interpretation of Genesis began in the 13th century with a banning of Arabian science and philosophy (most of it translated Greek books) and this continued to the middle of the 19th century.
  • 1758 - Carolus Linnaeus (Karl von Linné) Swedish Naturalist- (Linnean System) - Introduced Class, Order, Genus & Species and Binomial Nomenclature (A system in which two names are employed. The first name represents the genus the second a specific name.) in "Systema naturae". His system, the Linnaen System, which included the 7 level taxonomy (Kingdom, Philum, ...) was based on the most evident characteristics of organisms - their morphology.
  • 1859 - Charles Darwin "The Origin of Species by means of natural selection"
    This started a new effort to classify groups which had descended from a common ancestor.
  • 1866 - Ernst Haeckel Organized a "tree of life" and proposed new kingdom Protista for protozoa and most algae.
  • Early 20th century - The systematics movement was characterized by the detailed sutdy of organisims as members of populations
  • 1942 - Ernst Mayr publishes "Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist" - The major problem with the evolution of taxonomy is that it was created before Darwin and was too slow in adopting the evolutionary relationship between species.

    Modern Phylogenetic Taxonomy uses DNA analysis and embryological development in addition to traditional characteristics to show evolutionary relationships.

  • 1950 - German taxonomist, Willy Henning proposes cladism in 1950, in "GrundzŁge einer Theorie der Phylogenetischen Systematik" (See Cladistics)
  • 1977 - Carl Woese, professor of Microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, defined the Archaea (a new domain or kingdom of life) by phylogenetic taxonomy of 16S ribosomal RNA.
  • 1994 - Carl Woese (U. Ill.) publishes "Universal Phylogenic tree in rooted form"
    Archaea (Archaebacteria) was split out of what was called the SuperKingdom of Prokaryota or Monera (Bacteria).
See A Brief History of the Kingdoms of Life

"The Growth of Biological Thought", Ernst Mayr
"Principles of Systematic Zoology", Ernst Mayr
Systematics and the Origin of Species, 1995, Ernst Mayr
"Full House", 1996, Steven Gould
"International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN)"
"Life Evolving", 2002, Christian de Duve
Life: The Science of Biology, by Purves et al., from Sinauer Associates

Race in US Census
Human Race at Carleton College.
RACE - The Power of an Illusion. at pbs.org

Earth History (Geological TIme)

More Information on Taxonomy:
PALAEOS: The Trace of Life on Earth
three Domains and Phylogeny at Univ. of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP)
Taxonomic Classifications at the Portsdown Geology site.
Tree of Life Web project
CMR Genomes Arranged by Taxonomy at the Comprehensive Microbial Resource (CMR) at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR)
The Taxonomicon & Systema Naturae 2000 Project - Brands, S.J. (comp.) 1989-2005. Universal Taxonomic Services, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Frontiers In Microbiology -> Microbes And The Three Domains
Terrestrial Vertebrates list
Bio 1003 notes at CUNY
Flora and Fauna at Google
U Toronto
Plant Classifications (annual/perenial, Deciduous/Evergreen etc.) at ND State Univ.
Number of Species at:
  The Environmental Literacy Council
  Roger Butterfield page from Natural History Museum in London
  Number of Species on Earth at CurrentResults.com/Environment-Facts
What does related mean
Invertebrates at rcn.com

Classification Lab at Sidwell Friends School
Scientific Classification at wikipedia.org
Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? by Nicholson.
Phylogentic Trees of Life: Griffith Univ., Queensland Australia
Evolution and Systematics: From Darwin to Phylogenetics at the U. of Tennessee
Systema Naturae 2000
See Chromista
Homo Sapiens in Taxonomy Browser and Genome Project at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Institutes of Health.

last updated 5 Oct 2006