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What is taxonomy? Taxonomy is the science of naming, classifying and describing organisms. This includes all forms of plants, animals and even micro-organisms in the world. All things are then placed or arranged in a specific order. In fact, the Greek translation of “taxonomy” is “arranged method.” The father of taxonomy is Carl Linnaeus. He was born in Sweden in 1707.
In the past 250 years, taxonomists (those who study taxonomy) have identified and named some 1.78 million species of animals, micro-organisms and animals. However, it is believed that if ever completed, there will be somewhere between 5 to 30 million species.
What is a species? The largest group of organisms that are capable of interbreeding and producing offspring are known as species. Species include all kinds of animals, fungi, plants and micro-organisms. As the names for organisms are used in many languages, to make them more universal, their scientific names are given in Latin.
TAXONOMY AND CLASSIFICATION
Both taxonomy and classification are methods by which things are organized and then categorized into a simple form in which humans can comprehend. Through both we can create databases to separate and compare things.
Taxonomy is the orderly classification of animals and plants according to their natural relationships. It is an exhaustive, detailed listing. In the taxonomy process, a name is given to things or groups of things and then they are positioned into a hierarchy order. For example, a mouse would be lower in the hierarchy than a river rat.
Classification is the systematic arrangement into groups or categories according to specific criteria but it is not as an exhaustive listing as in taxonomy. As a simplistic example, it would be the division of all candies from all vegetables. Items are generally classified using only one or two criteria.
In short, taxonomy is the method of describing the relationships between things while classification is merely grouping items together.