Q:

Why do biologists classify organisms?

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Quick Answer

Biologists classify organisms to organize and keep track of the enormous variety of life forms, to better understand evolutionary distances, and to examine the relationships between organisms. Life on earth is incredibly diverse, with millions of different identified species.

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Full Answer

The basic system of classification for biology was originally devised by Swedish doctor and botanist Carolus Linnaeus. Linnaeus devised a system in which organisms are grouped under increasingly specific sub-categories, ranging from (at the broadest level) order, to family, genus and species (at the most specific level). For example, humans are classified as "Homo sapiens," with Homo being the genus and sapiens being the species. Linnaeus's basic system of classification is still used by biologists today.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the difference between taxonomy and systematics?

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    While taxonomy is the classification and naming of all living things, systematics refers to the study of the relationships between these living things as they evolve. Taxonomic hierarchy was devised and published by Swedish scientist Carl Linne in 1735. All branches of systematics, such as botany, zoology, microbiology and mycology, are covered under taxonomy. Taxonomy as the science of biological classification is a subdivision of systematics.

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  • Q:

    What are some methods biologists use to determine evolutionary relationships?

    A:

    Biologists who study the relationships between animal groups are known as taxonomists, and they have a wide array of tools at their disposal for determining the exact phylogeny of organisms. Among these are gross anatomy, protein similarity and direct gene sequencing, as related by Rediscovering Biology.

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  • Q:

    How do you know that two organisms are members of the same species?

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    Two organisms are part of the same species if they are able to interbreed. Two organisms that look similar but cannot breed together are not actually the same species. For example, Eastern and Western meadowlarks look nearly identical but are incapable of interbreeding; thus, they are two different species.

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  • Q:

    How does evolution work?

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    Evolution works by selecting in favor of the reproduction of some organisms in a population at the expense of other individuals. Natural selection works to eliminate the less inclusively fit from the population, either through death or failure to reproduce, and so drives the gene pool to fit the environment.

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