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Classification of Organisms. Chapter 18. What is an Organism?. An organism is generally referred to any living thing. More specifically any thing that has “cells”. This includes the smallest of organisms, the single celled bacteria, all the way to the largest redwood tree or Blue Whale.

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what is an organism
What is an Organism?

An organism is generally referred to any living thing. More specifically any thing that has “cells”.

This includes the smallest of organisms,

the single celled bacteria, all the way to the

largest redwood tree or Blue Whale.

why classify
Why Classify?

Biologists use classification to organize living things into groups so that the organisms are easier to study.


The Classification Game!!

Divide into groups of 3 or 4

In the following few slides, you will find

14 different organisms, each of them labeled with a letter.

In your groups, write down two main classification (example red/green).

Then place the corresponding letters under

the correct classification.


For Example

These organisms have been

classified by their color.







one possible solution
One Possible Solution




did you have problems
Did You Have Problems??

There were actually several different ways to go

about classifying these 14 organisms. You might

have done color, shape, size, number of legs… the possibilities are endless. You might have encountered one or two that really did not fit into either of your two classifications, what should you do when this happens? Make a new classification of course! And this is what scientist have done as well through the years.


Our modern classification system originated with

two main classifications, plants and animals. Over

the years, scientist came up with certain “plants”

that really did not act like plants, they couldn’t

make their own food. So the kingdom Fungi was



When microscopes were invented, scientist discovered new single celled organisms. Some were animal-like, some were plant like and some were both.

This lead to the creation of the Kingdom Protista.


As the microscope improved, scientist

discovered that many of the single celled

organisms were quite different. Some of them

had a nucleus and others did not. This lead

to the Kingdom Monera, the kingdom of the

most simplistic organisms, Bacteria.

taxonomy the study of how living things are classified
Taxonomy-The study of how living things are classified

Asistotle – he had the first classification system that group animal according to how the moved or where they lived.

Swim Fly Walk /crawl

He also had subgroups for organisms that shared other characteristics

Carolus Linnaeus- Swedish – He placed organisms in groups according to observable features and physical characteristics.

linnaeus s naming system
Linnaeus’s Naming System

Linnaeus had a two name system called

Binomial Nomenclature

Felis concoloris the scientific name for a puma.


Is the genus name- it is written first and is always capitalized


Is the species name – it is written second and is always lower case


Linnaeus used the Latin language

because that was the language that

was dominate around the world at

that time. This is why even today

organism’s scientific names are always

in Latin.


Along with the two major Kingdoms,

Plant and Animal, Linnaeus came up

with several sub-classifications for those

kingdoms. They are: Kingdom, Phylum,

Class, Order Family, Genus, and Species.

What Kingdom are you in?

What phylum are you in? Why?

levels of classification
Levels of classification








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the human species
The Human Species

Animalia (Animal in Latin)








Chordata (Spinal Cord)

Mammalia (have mammary glands)

Primates (two mammary glands)

Hominoidea (bipedalism)




When you refer to an organism

scientifically, you always use the

genus and the specie names.

Therefore, the human species would

be referred to as:

Homo sapien

recognizing species
Recognizing Species

Biologists usually define species based on appearance and structure

Biological species- group of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, reproductively isolated from other such groups

Hybrids can be made between two species

evolutionary history
Evolutionary History

Convergent evolution- organisms evolve similar features independently

Example: anteaters- long, sticky tongue; few teeth; large salivary glands

evolutionary history1
Evolutionary History

Analogous characters- similar features of organisms that evolve independently

Phylogeny- evolutionary history of a species


Cladogram- diagram based on patterns of shared, derived traits that shows the evolutionary relationships among groups of organisms


Differences in morphological, physiological, molecular, and behavioral level between organisms

New derived characters will show up on the cladogram as groups evolve


The classification system for organisms

have been around for a long time. It has

endured several changes and is quite

complex. Without it modern biology could

not exist, much in the same way that

a grocery store would go out of business

if it did not have a classification system.