How Animals Are Classified

There are many different kinds of animals on the earth, and often they are re-ated to other types that are very much like them in some ways, but different in others. For instance, among dogs, there arc boxers, poodles, Airedales, collies, German shepherds, hounds, setters, pointers, and many others. They arc of different sizes, and look different in many ways, but they are all dogs, and belong to the same “family.” The sameis true of cats, monkeys, and practically all animals. To make it easier to study animals, or to read about them, or talk about them, scientists separate them into various groups. The largest group is called a phylum. Each phylum is divided into classes: Each class is divided into orders: Each order is divided into families:

Each family is divided into genera, which is the plural of the word genus, meaning “kind”; Each genus is divided into species: And a species may have two or more subs pedes. Here is an example: When we go to the zoo, we often notice that beside each cage, or enclosure, there is a small sign. On it, there is the animal’s name, and also its scientific name, in Latin. We do not need to know all of these Latin names, unless we intend to make a study of zoology, but it is well to understand how the animals are named. For instance, if you have a dog: It belongs to the ORDER Carnivora. the meat-caters; It is a member of the family Canidae, or dogs;

It is of the genus Cants, the true dogs; It is of the species jamiliaris, the domesticated dogs; and so its scientific name is Canis jamiliaris. Then you might add the kind, or breed, which might be “Airedale,” and finally the dog’s own name, for example “Rover.” Animals, and plants too, arc often known to us by “popular” names that are different from their scientific names. (Popular in this case means “used by the people.”) The insect we call a darning needle and the flower we call butter-and-eggs, for instance, have entirely different scientific names.

Scientists know of millions of different kinds of animals. Unless you make a lifetime work of studying animals, you will never know or care about many of these differences. But even a person who is not a scientist divides animals into different classifications. You have always done it yourself, without even realizing it, when you saw the difference between birds and fish and insects and furry animals, all of which are different classes among animals.

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