Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Classifying the Animal Kingdom

In order for us to understand how all living organisms are related, they are arranged into different groups. The more features that a group of animals share, the more specific the group is. Animals are given scientific names so that people all around the world can communicate about animals, no matter what language they speak (these names are traditionally based on Latin words). Animals belong to a number of different groups, starting with the animal kingdom.

All living organisms are first placed into different kingdoms. There are five different kingdoms to classify life on Earth, which are Animals, Plants, Fungi, Bacteria, and Protists (single-celled organisms).

The animal kingdom is divided into 40 smaller groups, known as phylum. Here, animals are grouped by their main features. Animals usually fall into one of five different phylum which are Cnidaria (invertebrates), Chordata (vertebrates), Arthropods, Molluscs and Echinoderms.

The phylum group is then divided into even smaller groups, known as classes. The Chordata (vertebrates) phylum splits up into Mammalia (Mammals), Actinopterygii (Bony Fish), Chondrichthyes (Cartilaginous Fish) , Aves (Birds), Amphibia (Amphibians) and Reptilia (Reptiles).

Each class is divided into small groups again, known as orders. The class Mammalia (Mammals), splits into different groups including Carnivora, Primate, Artiodactyla and Rodentia.

In every order, there are different families of animals which all have very similar features. The Carnivora order breaks into families that include Felidae (Cats), Canidae (Dogs), Ursidae (Bears), and Mustelidae (Weasels).

Every animal family is then divided into small groups known as genera. Each genus contains animals that have very similar features and are closely related. For example, the Felidae (Cat) family contains genera including Felis (small Cats and domestic Cats), Panthera (Tigers, Leopards, Jaguars and Lions) and Puma (Panthers and Cougars).

Each individual species within the genus is usually named after it's individual features and characteristics. The names of animals are based on Latin to help them to be understood worldwide,  They consist of two words. The first word in the name of an animal will be the genus, and the second name indicates the specific species.

Example  - Tiger
Kingdom: Animalia (Animal)
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrate)
Class: Mammalia (Mammal)
Order: Carnivora (Carnivore)
Family: Felidae (Cat)
Genus: Panthera
Species: Panthera tigris (Tiger)

Whilst this is now universally recognised it is not the only way of classifying creatures.  I like this one -


  1. Thank you for this informative round-up! I knew some of it, but by no means all.
    As for the Chinese emperor's classification - I am not sure what to make of that!

  2. What a great laugh. I was thinking I wished I had paid more attention to memorizing this in biology class, but I like the Chinese version a bit better.

  3. Unsurprisingly, politicians are much easier to categorize. For example, Trump: Bacteria (with a side of fungus). See? Simple!

  4. I just wish that I knew more of the categories and more of everything. T2 clue today "Ivy Genus". Where were you when I needed you? I know - 450 miles away. Mind you I still haven't finished that crossword because O can't get "Plant; purple colour" -M-R----. The last letter being the first of the Ivy Genus.

  5. How i loved studying biology back in school. Although the emperor's way would certainly be simpler. Thanks for the lesson and the laugh.


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