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Classification is the method used by scientists to order living organisms. All species have a unique classification that results in a binomial name. Vertebrates are an example of a classification group. Keys can be used to help to identify individual organisms.

Kingdom to species


You will remember from your Key Stage 3 studies that species with similar characteristics are put into groups, and that this is called classification. Remind yourself of the basics of classification.


The first rank in this system is called a kingdom. There are five kingdoms, based upon what an organism's cells are like:

  1. animalia (all multicellular animals)
  2. plantae (all green plants)
  3. fungi (moulds, mushrooms, yeast)
  4. prokaryotae (bacteria, blue-green algae)
  5. protoctista (Amoeba, Paramecium).

Further divisions

There are several further ranks before we reach a particular species. In order, these are:

  • kingdom
  • phylum
  • class
  • order
  • family
  • genus
  • species.

For example, lions have the following classification:

  • kingdom - animal
  • phylum - vertebrate
  • class - mammal
  • order - carnivorous
  • family - cat
  • genus - big cat
  • species - lion.

One way to remember this is by using a daft sentence like this one:

"Kevin plays clarinet or flute - grotty sound!"

All organisms are known by their binomial name which is the genus and species eg Homo sapiens – modern humans

Classification - Higher tier

Being able to classify species is important to scientists as it allows them to accurately identify individual species wherever they are. For example - a robin in America isn’t the same as a robin in the UK so by using the binomial name Turdusmigratorius (American robin) or Erithacusrubecula (UK robin) then there is no confusion.

Binomial classification is important because it can:

  • clearly identify species
  • study and conserve species
  • target conservation efforts.

Back to Classification, inheritance and variation index

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