Name: _______________________________________________ March 11, 2008
SCIENCE – CLASSIFICATION Section #/color: ____ / ___________
SCIENCE – CLASSIFICATION
What is the scientific classification system? Who is responsible for creating it?
How and why do scientists classify living things?
The WHAT, WHO, HOW and WHY of TAXONOMY - NOTES
1. WHAT is the scientific classification
system of living things?
2. WHO is responsible for creating it?
3. HOW does it work?
4. WHY do scientists need it?
DIRECTIONS: Use your notes on CLASSIFICATION to answer the following questions. Write/type your
answers in complete sentences on a separate sheet of paper.
1. In your own words, what is CLASSIFICATION?
2. Suppose your friend wants to make a classification system for her DVD collection. She has DVD’s from
all sorts of movie genre: horror, romance, adventure, sci-fi, etc. She tells you that she needs advice on
making her classification system “GOOD.”
What advice would you give her? Include in your answer examples of HOW she could arrange her
DVD’s to meet the standards of a “GOOD” classification system.
3. What is taxonomy, what is its purpose, and who is it used by?
4. Describe how the systems used to classify living things have changed over time. What did we used to base
our classification of living things on? What do we now base it on?
5. Explain how technology has helped us to change the methods that we use to group living things.
6. You are a scientist working in the pristine rainforests of Brazil. One day while studying the undergrowth of
the forest, you stumble upon a strange creature. After your initial observations, you conclude that you
have discovered a new species of living things.
In order to classify your newly discovered species properly, what important characteristics of the organism
would you need to study or find out about?
7. What is the LARGEST classification group in taxonomy? Smallest?
8. Can there be more than one type of organism in a single type of species group? Why or why not?
9. Describe the two ways that we can name organisms. Which of the two ways can ALL scientists
10. You are talking to a scientist who doesn’t believe in the taxonomic system of classification of living things.
In fact, he doesn’t believe in any system of classification of living things. He says that it’s “a waste of time
being so tedious about arranging every living thing out there into groups.”
What would you respond to the scientist to convince him that his thoughts are incorrect? Give at LEAST
three pieces of evidence to convince him to change his thinking.
11. Go to http://en.wikipedia.org and type in the name of your assigned organism.
Your assigned organism is:___________________________.
Use the encyclopedia entry to fill out the attached chart to show the classification of your organism. Write a
few sentences about your organism in the space provided in the chart. Finally, find a picture of your selected
species and draw or cut and paste the picture into the box provided at the top of the chart. This activity is
important for an upcoming in-class activity on DICHOTOMOUS KEYS.
THE ABOVE 11 QUESTIONS ARE DUE ON:
The Taxonomy of the
PICTURE OF YOUR ORGANISM GOES
ABOUT YOUR ORGANISM:
CLASSIFICATION Specific Classification Category
Directions: Number the following notes with the number of the question from your classification notes that
they are connected to. Then, cut and paste them into the correct box on your classification notes.
In taxonomy, scientists group living things according to:
1) their appearance.
2) how they get their energy (autotroph – must MAKE their energy via
photosynthesis or chemosynthesis; heterotroph – must go out and get their
energy via hunting, scavenging or “shopping it down”).
3) how they are “organized” (multi vs. unicellular; eukaryotic – has a nucleus
vs. prokaryotic – does not have a nucleus).
4) Genetic makeup and hereditary relationship to other organisms
Classification: the organization of things into groups according to their
similarities and characteristics.
7 Levels of grouping from most general to most specific: kingdom, phylum,
class, order, family, genus, species (kit-kats placed carelessly over flames get
The classification of living things is called TAXONOMY!
Aristotle – 4th Century B.C. – grouped things into plants and animals. Further
grouped animals according to how they moved.
Gives UNIVERSALITY to the study of living things – all scientists use the same
system and all scientists of all language backgrounds can communicate using the
Classification happens everywhere – to almost everything! e.g. English – the
parts of speech!
17th Century – scientists started grouping things according to how they look (e.g.
Organisms are named using 2 latin names (genus and species group names IN
ITALICS!) that reflect their characteristics… system of naming is called
BINOMIAL NOMENCLATURE. This creates the organism’s scientific
name…you usually call it by its common name (e.g. homo sapiens and human!)
18th Century – Charles Darwin’s studies on the evolution of living things helped
to reveal that classification should be based on the structure of the organism
AND its genetic makeup (hereditary material and relationships).
Helps scientists to be organized, see and create hereditary and evolutionary
relationships between different organisms, and understand the structure and
purpose of organisms better – if you know what Kingdom, phylum, class, order,
genus, or species an organism belongs to, you can assume things about how it
looks, how it eats, how it is organized, etc.).
TODAY – technology has helped us to improve our ability to correctly classify
living things – focus is now on evolutionary relationships/genetic/DNA!
Good classification systems are:
o meaningful (have a purpose).
o show relationships (similarities and differences can be easily seen).
o easily communicated (anyone can understand it).
5 Kingdoms – Plantae, Animalia, Fungi, Monera (Bacteria), Protista…maybe
six? Monera = Eubacteria and Archaebacteria