How Animals are Classified

Taxonomic classification is the sorting out and the classifying of organisms. The world is full of these living things and it is necessary to group them according to their own kind. These classifications start from the largest down to the smallest. In other words, the largest group but the smallest number of divisions are animals and plants.

If we were to classify all matter, living and dead, we would say three groups, animal, vegetable and mineral. Mineral, of course is not living matter and for this article it will not be discussed; although the animal and plant groups make use of this substance for their growth.

That’s rather simplistic and is not confusing and most of us know a tree as a plant and a horse, a cow, a person, a dog, a cat or people as animals. Yet, when we get down to the lower minute forms of life and especially the forms of life living in the ocean there is often confusion. One may somewhat resemble the other although being of the other. A sand dollar, as an example, may clearly resemble a plant, but it is an animal. Coral too, is an animal. Without knowing better I would have guessed it to be mineral since it is hard and prickly and looking less like an animal or even a plant. To me, it looks like a fluted rock bed and thus would be classified as a mineral. Yet it is an animal even though it colorful frills could possibly resemble plants.

There is less confusion when dealing with the larger living matter such as trees and flowers and cats and dogs and frogs. To clarify these groups there are seven classifications that all living life belongs to. At least most of the time this classification works well and no one complains, but once in a while someone will challenge a placement. This is especially true when new species are found and this happens fairly often. Let’s say it happens enough to keep scientist busy finding out exactly where they belong in the classification table.

Therefore the seven classifications of taxonomy are kingdom consisting of five divisions including animals, plants, fungi, single celled organisms with cell walls, and bacteria – single celled organisms with no nucleus. This classification characteristically describes them. It is by no means the definitive model that students ordinarily use in biology classes while learning how to categorize all living things.

This is done with a more expansive classification consisting of the kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The largest group is the kingdom as I’ve already mentioned. It has only two divisions, plants and animals. The distinction between these two larger groups is: animals derive their energy from organic matter while plants make their own by means of photosynthesis and by utilization of minerals.

 Plants are the opposite of the animal kingdom in that they utilize the by-products of animal activity. Animals breathe out carbon dioxide which is taken in and recycled by plants; animals need the oxygen to recycle the organic matter. This is actually a cooperative effort but trouble starts when too much organic matter is being consumed and there is not enough plants available to use up all the carbon dioxide being produced. This is what is causing the warming trend we are in today; and toward correcting that unbalanced situation the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has sounded its warning call of recycle and conserve.

The second largest division of the animal taxonomy classification is phylum. It is made up of vertebrates and invertebrates; vertebrates have backbones and invertebrate do not. Humans and dogs and cats are among the vertebrates and jelly fish, flatworms and sponges are among the invertebrates.

Next is a class. with likenesses such as those animals that give birth to their young and those who lay eggs; those who have feathers and those who have hair; those who fly and those who swim and those that are hard shelled and those that are not.

Next in line is order, it further distinguishes likenesses. As an example the order humans belong to are primates. Shared among this group are apes and monkeys since all the group have large brains, have hands and feet and stand upright. Narrowing that further is the family with related characteristics and beyond that is genus which further classifies organism and finally the species further divides the primate group into more relatedness. We belong to the species homosapien. Homo identifies the physical characteristics and sapiens refers to species capable of higher intelligence.

It’s not easy to remember the order of taxonomy classification. Online, from answers. com I found an ingenious way to remember the acronym KPCOFGS (Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species). They asked for readers to send in their own definitions and some of them were rather wild. One online site writer suggested an easy one to remember “Keep pots clean or family gets sick.”