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What is classification in science?

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Quick Answer

Classification, or taxonomy, is the process of identifying, naming and categorizing living things based on their physical and biological characteristics. According to the Natural History Museum, scientists believe there are more than 31 million species of micro-organisms, animals and plants living on Earth today. Classification of living things helps scientists and students organize their research. It also helps to explain the interrelationships among diverse groups of organisms.

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Full Answer

According to Windows to the Universe, living things are categorized into three groups based on their genetic characteristics. These three groups are Archaea, Eubacteria and Eukaryota, and these are known as domains. For example, the Eukaryota domain is divided into four kingdoms: kingdom Protista, kingdom Fungi, kingdom Plantae and kingdom Animalia. Kingdom Protista includes all organisms that have one eukaryotic cell. Kingdom Fungi features mushrooms and all other fungi. Kingdom Plantae includes all plants including trees, flowers and grass. Meanwhile, kingdom Animalia includes all animals, insects, birds and human beings. In each kingdom, species are further categorized into specific groups based on their similarities. This system of classification creates a specific hierarchy where all living things fit into categories. The hierarchy of living things allows classification by kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is science always changing?

    A:

    Science changes due to several factors including technological innovations, societal concerns and increases of knowledge. Scientific information expands as humans disseminate research through peer-reviewed publications, collaborate on new projects and regulate studies through legislation.

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  • Q:

    What is the classification of bacteria?

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    Bacteria occupy their own domain of life. The domain Eubacteria is tremendously diverse and embraces no fewer than 30 distinct phyla, according to the LSPN classification schema. Because of the eagerness with which bacteria exchange genes across species barriers via lateral gene transfers, firm classifications according to lineage are difficult to establish with certainty.

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  • Q:

    What is a classification key and how is it used?

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    In biology, a classification key is a means of categorizing living organisms by identifying and sorting them according to common characteristics. Also referred to as a dichotomous key, single-access key or pathway key, the process enables organism classification by answering a series of hierarchical and specific identification questions by choosing one of two possible answers. The answer chosen leads to the next two-answer-choice question, which then continues in a sequential order that further narrows down the organism's characteristics and ultimately leads to  its final categorization.

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  • Q:

    What is the science of classification called?

    A:

    The science of classifying and identifying organisms is called taxonomy. It is a hierarchical system that groups organisms into seven major categories. In descending order they are: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.

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