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How are living things classified?

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Quick Answer

All organisms belong to one of five kingdoms: animal, plant, moneran, fungi and protist. All living organisms fall into specific categories using taxonomy, which groups all living things into groups based on biological characteristics and traits. Taxonomy itself classifies as a distinct branch of science, classifying living creatures into general categories and more specific groups.

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Each kingdom further distinguishes species based on certain characteristics. The second largest group within each kingdom is that of phylum. The systems of class, order, family, genus and species follow in descending order. Animals or plants within the same kingdom bear some of the same characteristics, such as having a multicellular composition. Those within the same class or order, however, bear even more resemblance. In addition to taxonomy, the system of scientific classification identifies and organizes living creatures.

Each plant or animal has a scientific name with two separate words. The first word identifying each organism is a common name, while a Latin name follows. Scientists worldwide use the systems of taxonomy and scientific classification, facilitating the task of organizing plants and animals. The concept of taxonomy dates back to the days of ancient Greece. However, Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus receives credit as the Father of Taxonomy for devising a binomial classification system for all living organisms.

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