“taxonomy: In biology, the classification of organisms into a hierarchy of groupings, from the general to the particular, that reflect evolutionary and usually morphological relationships: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. The black-capped chickadee, for example, is an animal (kingdom Animalia) with a dorsal nerve cord (phylum Cordata) and feathers (class Aves: birds) that perches (order Passeriformes: perching birds) and is small with a short bill (family Paridae). a song that sounds like ‘chik-a-dee’ (genus Parus) and a black-capped head (species atricapillus). Most authorities recognize five kingdoms: monerans (prokaryotes), protists, fungi (see fungus), plants, and animals. Carl Linnaeus established the scheme of using Latin generic and specific names in the mid-18th century; his work was extensively revised by later biologists.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

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