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Biology > The Living World > Classification and Nomenclature
The Living World

Classification and Nomenclature

When we see around we can find a large variety of living organisms around us. This variety includes small plants, birds, insects and several other animals. This refers to biodiversity for the number and types of organisms present on the earth. So to identify, regroup and recognize various organisms, a systematic study is required. Let’s also study how scientific names are being provided to them.

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It is the scientific study that attempts to recognize describe name and arrange the diverse organisms according to an organized system on unique features of species and Groups. Systematics include:


The organism is identified according to morphological and anatomical features. It is then given a proper name and placed in a particular group.

Scientific Names

(Image Source: dinopedia)


Classification is a scientific method of grouping organisms in a hierarchical series of groups on the basis of their morphological, evolutionary and other relationships. Different types of classification have been studied –

  • artificial classification,
  • natural classification
  • phylogenetic classification.

Scientist follows several principles and criteria in natural classification like morphology, anatomy, geology, ontology, phylogeny etc of an organism to put into different categories.

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Necessity of Classification

  • It is nearly impossible to study all the living things.
    Classification enables us to group the animals into convenient categories based on easily observable characters.
  • Classification enables us to study phylogenetic relationships between the organisms.
  • One can easily put a newly identified organism into a particular group. This will help in identifying other features of the organism.


It is the present scientific method of naming the organisms with their official scientific names.

The Need for Scientific Names

Different plants and animals have different local names. These local names would vary from place to place. It could create a confusion in identifying the plant or animal. Hence there is a need to standardize the name of the living organism in such a way that a particular organism is known by the same name all over the world. This process is called nomenclature.

Binomial Nomenclature

It is the method of naming the organisms. The term Binomial Nomenclature means two-word names. Carolus Linnaeus devised this method. He explained the system in his book ‘Systema Naturae’. Some of the universal rules of nomenclature are as follows:

  • The scientific name of any organism will consist of 2 words the first one is the name of the genus and the second name the name of the species. For example, the scientific name of mango is Mangifera indica. In this Mangifera signifies the name of the genus whereas the term indica signifies the name of the species.
  • The first word that is the name of the genus will always start with a capital letter. The second word which is the specific epithet will always start with a small letter. For example in the scientific name of dog Canis domestica, the generic name Canis will always start with a capital letter and the specific epithet domestica will always start with a small letter.
  • The biological names are generally in Latin and written or printed in italics. Both the words when handwritten are underlined are printed in italics to indicate their Latin origin.

 Advantages of Scientific Names

  • Assigning the scientific name will help in classification of organisms. We can describe and name a newly discovered animal or plant.
  • One can give each kind of organism a single scientific name. This will minimize the confusion of multiple naming.
  • Name indicate the relationship of the species with other organisms placed in the same genus, for example, the dog, Wolf, and Jackal have the same generic Canis which indicate that all these animals are related to one another.

Solved Examples for You

Question: We can consider Linnaeus as Father of Taxonomy. Name two other botanists known for their contribution to the field of plant taxonomy?

Answer: G Bentham and Joseph Dalton Hooker. Both are famous for their work on “classification of plants based on natural characteristics”

Question: A scientist has come across a plant which he feels is a new species. How will he go about its identification, classification, and nomenclature?

Answer: The scientist should look at various morphological features of the plant. He should begin with broad features; such as the type of roots and venation. If fibrous roots are present then the plant may belong to monocotyledonous. In case of the taproot, the plant may belong to dicotyledonous.

This can be further confirmed by the presence of parallel or reticulate venation and number of cotyledons in the seeds. After that, the scientist should look at the type of phyllotaxy, inflorescence, etc. which will help in classifying the plant in order and family.

If it is a flowering plant, then a detailed study of various floral parts can give various clues about a particular family or order. Type of placentation can be studied by looking at the arrangement of seeds inside the fruits. Finally, the arrangement of antheridium and gynoecium can help the scientist to confirm a particular family for the new species.

The research work of scientists on the basis of these features should be verified to conclude it as a new species discovered. The scientist also needs to rule out the exact similarity with any other existing species before arriving at a unique name for the new species found.

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Living things still be the curious for many people. It is like the way we asked “what is it like to live in somewhere …” Thanks for interesting share!

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