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Taxonomy (pronounced: taks-ON-uh-mee, from the Greek taxis, meaning 'arrangement', and nomos, meaning 'law') is the science of classification, in particular of organisms. It involves the description, identification, nomenclature, and classification of organisms.


The concept of taxonomy has been in existence since the time of Aristotle, who first introduced a binary classification system, dividing all living things into animals and plants. However, the modern system of classification - known as the Linnaean taxonomy - was developed by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century.

Levels of Taxonomy

The Linnaean system uses a hierarchical model for the classification of organisms, based on their similarities and differences. This system includes seven major levels, listed from the most general to the most specific: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Each level in this hierarchy is referred to as a taxonomic rank or taxon (plural: taxa).

Binomial Nomenclature

In taxonomy, each species is given a two-part name, a system known as binomial nomenclature. The first part of the name is the genus, and the second part is the specific epithet. This system of naming organisms is universally accepted and used in all fields of biology.

Importance of Taxonomy

Taxonomy plays a crucial role in the study of biology. It helps in the identification and classification of the vast diversity of life forms on Earth. It also aids in understanding the relationships between different organisms, their evolution, and their distribution.

Related Terms

  • Systematics: The study of the diversification of living forms, both past and present, and the relationships among living things through time.
  • Phylogenetics: The study of evolutionary relationships among species.
  • Cladistics: A method of classification of animals and plants according to the proportion of measurable characteristics that they have in common.

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