Talk:Biological classification

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Please provide details of proper capitalistion, both specific to wikipedia style and the various conventions used around the globe, including how should we capitalise the actual terms, class (or Class), species, etc ... Common names, vs Latin names, and so on ... benefits and disadvantages of each system (or is there only one correct system?) Thx in advance ... next try to get all of wikipedia to adhere to the appropriate style ... -- Canglegrottlewirt (talk) 16:14, 19 September 2009 (UTC)


Subregnum redirects to this page, but I don't see the term anywhere. Could someone insert/define this term somewhere in the article? Thanks, (talk) 00:49, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Subregnum is Latin for subkingdom, so it's already listed. Ranks are given Latin names when writing taxoboxes, but there's no real need for them in the main text. It shouldn't redirect here, though. A redirect either to Kingdom (biology) or to Taxonomic rank would be more appropriate and informative. Gnostrat (talk) 13:40, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Two Proposed Changes[edit]

1. Rename this article Biological classification. This clearly is a biological concept, and sciences other than biology use classifications, as is obvious from the disambig page.

I agree totally; it'll take an admin (since Biological classification) or else I'd just go ahead and do it.

2. We should do something with Linnaean taxonomy, either revise it or redirect it here. Linnaean classification and Linnaean nomenclature both already redirect here, for presumably good reasons, but as it stands, Linnaean taxonomy doesn't even link here. Linnaean taxonomy could conceivably be a different article if it dealt with the historical classification which predates modern taxonomy, but it in fact it aspires to be what this article already is - about modern taxonomy (e.g., domains). So, we could either make Linnaean taxonomy truly about Linnaean taxonomy, and make it an expansion of Scientific classification#Linnaean, or just redirect it here.

--MagneticFlux 05:19, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

The term "Linnaean taxonomy" is itself problematic: is it the taxonomy of Linnaeus, or the taxonomy based on Linnaeus? If we looks at such works as Systema Naturae and Species Plantarum, we see something very different from the classifications of even the next generation. The binomial is the only clearly common feature, and Linnaeus originally intended that as a mnemonic, not as a replacement for the genus and differentia.
I believe we should have an article about the taxonomy of Linnaeus, but it should probably be called Taxonomy of Linnaeus. Linnaean taxonomy can redirect to Biological classification, since that's the sense in which most people use it.--Curtis Clark 13:25, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
I support renaming this article Biological classification but I'm opposed to the merger, on the following grounds:
(1) The merged article would be over-long and unwieldy.
(2) As things stand, if Linnaean taxonomy should be merged with anything, it should be with Rank (zoology) and Rank (botany), for rather obvious reasons.
(3) Linnaean taxonomy is not the same as biological classification. It's a narrower concept because we now have the PhyloCode as an alternative which dumps the Linnaean system of ranks — and even binomials, I understand. This article (Scientific classification/Biological classification) provides an overview of the various systems (Linnaean, PhyloCode) and, cross-cutting them, methodologies like 'Aristotelian' and cladistic. These all deserve their own articles as well, and in fact we have separate articles for cladistics and the PhyloCode. There needs to be one specifically reserved for the Linnaean system. Linnaean classification and Linnaean nomenclature should redirect to Linnaean taxonomy, not here. Or better, rename Linnaean taxonomy to Linnaean classification or Linnaean system and let it cover both ranks and nomenclature.
(4) It makes sense to have separate articles for the history of the Linnaean system and for its current practice. A number of recent posts have remarked on the distinction and pointed in this direction. Looking at the two articles as they stand, it seems to me that Biological classification, which would provide an overview of the various systems (including alternatives to the Linnaean system), is also better placed to slot them all into historical context (and could include a section rather like Curtis Clark's proposed Taxonomy of Linnaeus). Linnaean taxonomy (or whatever we rename it to) is the place to consolidate the current usage of ranks and nomenclature. We just need to swap material between them to achieve a more focussed article in each case. The stuff on standardised ranks, endings and author citations in the Examples, Terminations and Authorities sections of Scientific classification should move over to the other article, for definite. Gnostrat 23:47, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
How about Linnaean taxonomy becoming a disambiguation page? Something like:

Linnaean taxonomy can refer to:

  • The taxonomic principles developed by Carolus Linnaeus.
  • The traditional biological classification first developed by the students of Linnaeus and used in the late 18th through 20th centuries.
I'm not sure where these would link.--Curtis Clark 04:08, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
The first one could link to Biological classification (the general and historical article, including Taxonomy of Linnaeus). The second would link to what is currently Linnaean taxonomy (plus Rank (botany) plus Rank (zoology) plus parts of Scientific classification, as I see it developing), but I'm not sure how we would rename that — maybe Linnaean system or Modern Linnaean taxonomy, or something. Linnaean classification would have to redirect to the disambig page if we did it this way.
Still, I don't think I've ever actually come across Linnaean taxonomy used in any other sense than the system based on Linnaeus. So maybe the disambig won't be needed? Gnostrat 23:51, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Whatever you guys decide, I think it is important to make sure that all these terms listed below are well-defined with respect to each other. An example of something which is terribly-defined is "Linnaean taxonomy," which does not even link to "Biological classification/Scientific classification." Thus, we have the highly aribitrary result that two people looking for the same thing could read very different articles when one types "Linnaean taxonomy" and the other "biological classification." Feel free to add to and modify the list. --MagneticFlux 22:33, 23 August 2007 (UTC) (sub-points are redirects to main points)

OK, I modified it to show what I think should redirect to what. This article should become Biological classification, while Scientific classification should be a disambig. Linnaean taxonomy, Cladistics and PhyloCode should all be summarised in Biological classification but should also exist as separate articles. Binomial nomenclature/Linnaean nomenclature should be summarised in Linnaean taxonomy but (now that I come to think about it), it warrants its own article as well. I entirely agree that Linnaean taxonomy should link to Biological classification, I don't think you'll get any controversy on that one. Gnostrat 00:14, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Deafening silence. Can we take it that consensus has been reached at least for moving this page over to Biological classification? I presume we would need an admin to merge the talk pages and edit histories, and a bot to tackle the massive numbers of links and double redirects. Any takers? Gnostrat 12:24, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

The basis of all classification is a distinguishing characteristic that one "group" holds true and the other group does not have. The groups then branch off into more precise characteristics. 19:19, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

From the sound of this article, it appears that the linnean taxonomy is like an older form of scientific classification, we should just merge this into scientific classification. -- GuthxMastr7 01:50, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Linnaean taxonomy is a particular way of doing biological classification — one of several. It may be old, but it is still very much with us, alongside newer systems and methodologies. In fact some of the newer methodologies like cladistics can still operate within a formally Linnaean system. Biological classification itself is only one sort of scientific classification.
So in theory, Linnaean taxonomy and biological classification and scientific classification are quite distinct levels. And I have previously argued that the articles should remain distinct, too. However, there has been such frequent confusion between these terms that I am having second thoughts.
If indeed the term Linnaean taxonomy is so ambiguous that people are going to that page expecting to find information about Linnaeus' own taxonomy, or if they are coming to this article looking for information about the Linnaean system as currently practised, then maintaining a separate article page with "Linnaean" in its title may not be very useful. And with the recent creation of an article for Taxonomic rank, my earlier suggestion that Linnaean taxonomy might be the place to consolidate material on the modern hierarchy of ranks now looks obsolete.
Therefore, I would support merging Linnaean taxonomy into the present article, provided that the merged page were kept to a manageable length by relocating the Taxonomic ranks section of the former into the Taxonomic rank article. (There are some discrepancies between these latter two which will need to be ironed out, but at least that would be a well-defined article. I might have a go at it before too long.)
Once Linnaean taxonomy has been merged in, the present article should be moved to Biological classification (with the current title becoming a disambiguation page), as several people have repeatedly suggested. Gnostrat (talk) 03:38, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Move proposal: Scientific classification > Biological classification[edit]

I would like to propose to start with the first change

  1. Rename this article Biological classification.
  2. And move or remame Scientific classification (disambiguation) to Scientific classification

Several editors seemed to agree with this, or at least with the first step. - Mdd (talk) 17:04, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

I see you tried it 3½ years ago and it got reverted, but we have an evident consensus here in favour of the rename option. So, if nobody objects in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to list this page on Requested moves for renaming to Biological classification. However, Scientific classification would have to redirect to Biological classification for as long as there's no bot to rewrite the thousands of links to the former so that they link directly to the latter. (Either that, or make Scientific classification the disambig page anyway and let hordes of editors do the alterations as and when they find out!) Gnostrat (talk) 03:33, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
I can find only 221 links that needs to be checked, see here. I can do that in 2 hours!? -- Mdd (talk) 00:58, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Could you somehow confirm that "thousands of links" argument -- Mdd (talk) 01:04, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
IIRC there were a lot more for Hybrid and it wasn't an issue there.--Curtis Clark (talk) 13:45, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
I see, Hybrid (disambiguation) has become a redirect towards the disambiguation page Hybrid. I guess you also oppose a redirect from Scientific classification to Biological classification.
I still don't understand what is wrong with these biologists. They seems to think they have a monopoly on the word "Scientific classification". Maybe it is because I am a not-native speaker and I don't understand the meaning of the word in reality. I also don't understand the frase:
  • Scientific classification... is how biologists group and categorise extinct and living species of organisms.
All scientists group, categorise and classify the phenomenon they are styding. Isn't that called Scientific classification in English. Or do they have an other word for this. -- Mdd (talk) 14:46, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
The search with Special:WhatLinksHere/Scientific classification gives about 90.000 articles that link towards scientific classification. However. The trick here is that 99% of these links come from just a one Template:Taxobox (or maybe a few hunderd templates of them.) So, maybe you only have to change one redirect in that Taxobox Template to solve all these problems... and off cause the other few hunderd other links. -- 18:39, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
I've dropped a note on the template talk page. If they agree to it, there should be no major problem with making Scientific classification the disambig page, as the taxoboxes should be delinked from the latter in tandem with the move. Gnostrat (talk) 21:28, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. They also confirmed to me, that "there's one taxobox template, and there should be no problems". And if a problem remains, we can request a bot to do the remaining work. -- Mdd (talk) 23:22, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Wonderful. I guess we should wait a few days to see if anybody has other ideas, but it's looking good : ) Gnostrat (talk) 00:26, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

No need to rush. But the move request template is just removed by User:JPG-GR because this page was not listed at WP:RM: the Wikipedia:Requested moves list. I guess we can add this article and the Scientific classification (disambiguation). This will probably take a few day any way!? -- Mdd (talk) 07:45, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Grr :-/ The template was there to inform people that we have a proposal and a venue to discuss it. I didn't want to set the wheels in motion before we'd given folk a week or two to say what they think, and "There is no obligation to list such move requests...discussions of page moves can always be carried out at the article's talk page without adding an entry" — so says WP:RM. I'll list us soon enough, probably tomorrow now, and in the meantime I'll put the template back on. We can't list the disambig move jointly with this one, because our friend at the taxobox would like Scientific classification left as a redirect for a couple of days after the move while they update the 90,000 articles. Gnostrat (talk) 01:58, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Ok. I think it is a good thing to wait a fwith the disambig move. If the taxobox template is altered, after a few days we can get a real impression if really 99.98% of the links towards scientific classification are redirected towards biological classification, and there are only a few 100 links left. If not there is some big trouble, here. So better to wait a few days. -- Mdd (talk) 12:20, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
We can but hope, and put our faith in the Bot. Anyway, I've listed us at WP:RM. Gnostrat (talk) 00:53, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Ok thanks. I am under the impression that if you change the one taxobox, all the article change at once. Just like if you change an other template. But maybe I am mistaken. -- Mdd (talk) 00:56, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
That was my impression too. It'll probably just take the taxobox guys a day or two to get on it, and then we can fix the ones that don't change. Let's wait and see. Gnostrat (talk) 01:36, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
If a template changes, all of the pages where it is included have to change as well. If there are many of them, these changes are not done iommediately, to prevent overloading the server. It usually doesn't take long.sdfkghsdfjkghdfksjghdfjkghsd You can discuss both move requests in one move, since they are related. Just ask the closing admin to notify Template talk:Taxobox. Or even better: notify that page after 5 days, so that one of the regulars over there can do both moves. (I'd be willing to do that, for example.) -- Eugène van der Pijll (talk) 13:57, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

I have just changed the link in {{Taxobox}}; the database should be up-to-date by the time the move request poll ends. -- Eugène van der Pijll (talk) 17:59, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

WP:RM April 10[edit]

Scientific classification → Biological classification —(Discuss)— Talk page consensus: there are other kinds of scientific classification and this article is specifically about the biological kind. The move has been suggested many times by different people and will probably not be controversial, but needs admin assistance because Biological classification is a redirect with several edits in the edit history. —Gnostrat (talk) 00:24, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Support as biology isn't the only science that classifies things. (talk) 04:10, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Support -- Mdd (talk) 14:09, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Support, just for the record I guess. Gnostrat (talk) 21:52, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Support--Curtis Clark (talk) 04:22, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done BencherliteTalk 20:39, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Thank you. -- Mdd (talk) 20:45, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Why is there a redirect from Scientific classification if everybody agrees that Scientific classification should have its own article? --Kupirijo (talk) 20:49, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

Opposition to Merge Comments[edit]

I oppose the merge. The Linnaean Taxonomy deserves a separate entry because of its historical importance. The entry should be on the use, development, and philosophy of biology about the system. An entry on Linnaeus or his natural systems book would not be the best place to discuss the development of the system through the 18th & 19th century. And the Biological Classifications entry is the place for brief description in comparisons of systems, but not the place for a description of the system itself. Iopis (talk) 00:53, 25 May 2008 (UTC)Iopis

I also oppose the merge. I suggest focusing this article, Linnaean Taxonomy, on the historical taxonomic system developed by Carl Linnaeus, and have Biological Classification and related articles explain the modern understanding of that system. What Linnaeus developed and what we call "Linnaean" today are quite different. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:01, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Oppose merge of Linnaean taxonomy into Biological classification. It seems quite a lot can usefully be added to Linnaean taxonomy: more precise explanation of the rules, and any changes since Linnaeus' time; explanation of what the levels (Kingdom, Phylum, etc.) are meant to signify; strengths and weaknesses (my interest in this is via paleontology, where cladistics appears to have taken over). -- Philcha (talk) 13:49, 26 August 2008 (UTC)


Please Give Briefly About What Is Classification & Uses Of Classification —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:51, 6 January 2009 (UTC)


Please Give Briefly About What Is Classification & Uses Of Classification —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:53, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Alpha taxonomy[edit]

merge was proposed 2 years ago, but discussion was not started here. (talk) 07:37, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Alpha taxonomy is the science of correctly establishing names for taxa, while classification is the science of what to do with these names later. These are two different issues, which should probably not be merged. We should perhaps discuss how to expand Alpha taxonomy so that it deals with all aspects and problems concerned with original descriptions of taxa, containing two main chapters, botany and zoology. --FranciscoWelterSchultes (talk) 14:39, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Important natural historians lacking[edit]

I note in passing that Ray's important account of a biological species is not mentioned. Also note William Turner (16th century) as Ray's most significant predecessor according to Raven English naturalists from Neckham to Ray. Willughby, too, is significant. Both are left out in the article.

"In order that an inventory of plants may be begun and a classification (divisio) of them correctly established, we must try to discover criteria of some sort for distinguishing what are called “species”. After long and considerable investigation, no surer criterion for determining species has occurred to me than the distinguishing features that perpetuate themselves in propagation from seed. Thus, no matter what variations occur in the individuals or the species, if they spring from the seed of one and the same plant, they are accidental variations and not such as to distinguish a species … Animals likewise that differ specifically preserve their distinct species permanently; one species never springs from the seed of another nor vice versa." [Historia plantarum generalis, in the volume published in 1686, Tome I, Libr. I, Chap. XX, page 40 (Quoted in Mayr 1982: 256)] excerpt from here

Structure for package of articles on Biological classification, Cladistics, Linnaean taxonomy etc.[edit]

Some of us look and Clade and Cladistics and concluded that WP needs a package of articles, so that we know which covers the details of each topic and which summarises and refers to a related article for the details - see discussion at Talk:Clade#What_goes_in_which_article. We'll keep our drafts here, as this is the top-level of the package (at present?). We made {{hide}} old drafts. --Philcha (talk) 14:10, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Much of what is described in this article are details of Linnaean taxonomy and belongs under that header, e.g. the systematic hierarchy. Some of this have been copied over already. The details of Linnaeus own taxonomy has been moved to Systema Naturae. This article should be about biological classification in the general sense. It should cover the concept, the history and some of the approaches (Phenetics, Cladistics, Linnaean etc). A similar round of rewriting will be necessary in the articles on cladistics, some of which are rather badly written, not entirely neutral in tone and containing a number of errors.Petter Bøckman (talk) 13:45, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Sources for package of articles on Biological classification, Cladistics, Linnaean taxonomy etc.[edit]

Sources for use in the same package. I suggest that: they're grouped by topic, so sources are relevant to more than topic will appear in each topic; each source would have a note about by it's useful, preferable just 1 line. --Philcha (talk) 14:14, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Globally Unique Identifiers for Names section outdated[edit]

LSID is sooo 2007. The standard has fallen out of favor with the taxonomic community and is practically dead at this point. More recent recommendations advise using regular HTTP URIs or PURLs as GUIDs. Kaldari (talk) 20:48, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Any good sources on that? Petter Bøckman (talk) 09:20, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Requesting comments on a proposal[edit]

A merger between the articles Phenetics with Linnean taxonomy has been proposed here. The proposal arose while examining Phenetics with a view of making it more explicit in this article and to clearly differentiate cladistics from it. Since the subject is of relevance to this article, may I request comments from the watchers and maintainers of this article on this issue. AshLin (talk) 06:08, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Merger proposal dropped. AshLin (talk) 07:33, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Cladistic classification and creationism[edit]

Recent edits has stated that cladistic classification has met resistance from creationists. I have reverted this because:

  • 1) Creationists are against all classification based on evolution, which means pretty much every scheme forwarded since the late 19th century, not only cladistics.
  • 2) What creationists might think of the minutae of different classification systems all based on evolution is frankly not relevant.

What is true is that there has been heated debates between the adherents of cladistic nomenclature and more traditional Linnaeanists and evolutionary taxonomists, but this has nothing to do with creationism. Petter Bøckman (talk) 21:07, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

The article itself states that there is linnaean classification (which came about in the 1700s) and evolutionary cladistic classification (which first became popular in the 1960s). Linnaean classification does not assume evolution (it predates the theory of evolution, after all). What other evolution-based system is there other than cladistic classification? I was surprised and confused when I learned of creationists' hostility to a taxonomic system, until I figured out why it was that they were opposed to it. Other people should be aware of the creationist opposition and why it exists. If science existed in a vacuum, then the mention of creationist opposition would be irrelevant, but that is not the case. If the article were to make no mention of the creationist opposition, it would be a gross omission. And as I said before in an edit summary, if some [non-creationist] taxonomists are opposed to the cladistic system, then state their reasons separately. Because the mail never stops (talk) 02:40, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Confusion with different systems[edit]

It's very confusing reading different pages about species, orders, classes, etc. because there isn't just one classification system being used. For example, if you look at the page on theropods it says that they are in the class reptilia, and that avians (traditional birds) are theropods. According to the bird page, birds are a class of their own, aves. Without knowing that different systems are being used it seems contradictory.

Wouldn't it be better to pick one classification system for all articles, or show both?-- (talk) 02:45, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

The problem is that there is not two scientists that agree on all classifications. To compound the problem, there are two major ways of classifying organisms currently in use, Linnaean (which you will find in the taxo boxes and is the closest we have to an "official" system) and cladistics, which work on a different principle. It is confusing, and it is a problem, unfortunately one we'll have to live with. Most articles where this is an issue do as you suggested and list bout systems with a bit of explanation, see Vertebrate#Classification for an example.
As for Theropodes and birds, the class reptilia (which covers everything with proper egg-shells that is scaly rather than furry or feathery) has given rise to the classes Mammalia and Aves in classical Linnaean systematics. Reptilia is therefore an evolutionary grade rather than a clade, but that does not stop it from being a class. After all, reptiles hails from amphibians, amphibians from fishes, fishes from some tunicate-like ancestor and so on and so on. If we go back far enough we are all really bacteria, but that is an inconvenient way of keeping track of things, hence the Linnaean system of classes and orders etc. Petter Bøckman (talk) 09:47, 4 August 2010 (UTC)


This article is really very poorly referenced, for such an important and sometimes controversial topic. Most of the references are actually generated from the {{Biological systems}} template. I don't want to just put a warning on the article, but I do hope to encourage editors to do some referencing! I'll try to do some myself. Peter coxhead (talk) 04:20, 16 January 2011 (UTC)


Can someone explain to me why all the material after "The philosophical classification is in brief as follows:" is in this article? It belongs in a philosophy article, not here. Why should it not be removed? Peter coxhead (talk) 10:59, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

I'd say it could be considerably shortened.Petter Bøckman (talk) 14:28, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

"The majority of biologists use the 5-Kingdom system, but a large minority use the 3 domain system."[edit]

This statement is outdated. The 3-domain system (in which each domain might have any number of kingdoms pending future research) has entirely (to the best of my knowledge, and I'm a Biology Major) replaced the 5-kingdom system. Also, the Kingdom Monera is no longer used anywhere reliable that I know about, so shall we update that section? The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 06:43, 2 February 2011 (UTC)

I've removed this sentence. Apart from any other reason, it's not logically correct as there's no opposition between a 3-domain and a 5-kingdom system since the domains can have 5 kingdoms in total. It's also not sourced. Actually it's not quite correct to say that the 3-domain system has "entirely" replaced kingdom-based systems. Thomas Cavalier-Smith, who is a minority but still influential voice, continues to dispute the 3-domain approach, as he does not accept that the archaea-eubacteria divide is fundamental. So the last column in the table of systems does not use the domain system. See also Kingdom (biology), which I'll add to the article as a link. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:13, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Forgot to comment re "Monera". The only reference is to "a kingdom also sometimes called Monera", which is still true: remember that readers who studied biology in the past (long past in my case!) and who look to Wikipedia for updating need these historic names as a guide. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:19, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Given that in the domain system each domain has kingdoms within it, let's be careful of the term "kingdom-based." Might I suggest "non-domain" as at least a Talk Page name for the old system?
In any event, I concede that I may have been hasty if nothing else when I said "has entirely replaced." What I can still say is that taxonomic ranks that include the domain rank are very clearly the way of the future. I'm pretty sure any of my Professors would tell you that Eukarya is monophyletic, as is Archea. (The Domain Bacteria is arguably paraphyletic in the sense that it is the oldest domain and both of the other 2 diverged from it, but it still does include a common ancestor and therefore is not polyphyletic.) As long as these domain-rank taxa are monophyletic, what reason is there not to use domains as a major rank, every bit as important as the kingdoms immediately below them? I see no reason to object.
The likes of Cavalier-Smith are a dying breed, and although they still managed to have a say in K12 science courses long after college courses stopped teaching taxonomy without the domain rank (as recently as when I was in middle school, and I graduated in 2008; but not when I was in high school as I recall), even that low-level influence has faded. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 09:00, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
I think you will find the terms "outdated" and "replaces" in this regard is very much a matter of vantage-point. In top-level taxonomy domains is naturally almost exclusively used. Down on the more "detailed" level of eucaryote systematics (like, say zoology and botany), the unit kingdom is very much in use. I would guess that run-of-the-mill zoologists and botanists outnumber those working on domain-level by quite a good margin. Notice that this has no bearing on what of the two systems is more "correct" (as Peter coxhead pointed out, the systems are complimentary rather than opposed), merely reflecting that they are different tools for different uses. I work in the largest natural history museum in Norway, and I see kingdoms and kingdom systems used frequently, and almost exclusively when dealing with the public. Petter Bøckman (talk) 11:01, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
Of course the rank of kingdom is still used as the rank immediately below domain. This Talk Page Section has to do with top level taxa. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 12:08, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
I guess the question here is how we word this. Kingdom-as-top-level is used by a number of people working further down in the system (zoologists, botanists) simply because domains are of no relevance to them. How do we express this, without indicating that this represent any sort of active rejection of the work done on domain-level? Petter Bøckman (talk) 18:54, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
Just one domain-level taxon, namely the Domain Eukarya, is of every relevance to botany and zoology considering that it includes the Kingdoms Plantae and Animalia, respectively. Granted, the other 2 domains have no relevance to botany and zoology, but the same can be said at kingdom level. The Kingdom Plantae alone is relevant to botany, which means botanists don't work with more than 1 kingdom any more than they work with more than 1 domain. The same can be said for zoology, where only the Kingdom Animalia is relevant. For both botany and zoology, then, the phylum level is the lowest rank that those researchers actually work with in the sense of having more than one relevant taxon. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 09:08, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Sure, most even stick to a single family or even genus, for that matter. The thing is that they will usually include classification up to and including kingdom. I suggest the following wording: While the domain as top category is by far the most common among those studying single-cell organisms, the 5-kingdom system with minor variation is commonly used among biologists stydying plants and animals, for whom domain is of little relevance. Reflecting this, the botanical and zoological codes bout list kingdom rather than domain as top level categor. Would that do? Petter Bøckman (talk) 19:50, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that you can say that the codes "reflect" this; domains simply aren't covered by the two codes which haven't been revised to include them since the idea came in. Peter coxhead (talk) 23:11, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

This is a quote from Margulis 2008 Kingdoms and Domains: "we reject the bacteriocentric three-domain scheme on biological, evolutionary, and pedagogical grounds. Biologically, this trifurcation fails to recognize symbiogenesis, fusion of former bacteria to generate new individuals, as the major source of innovation in the evolution of eukaryotes. Furthermore, its three domains and multiple kingdoms are established solely by the criteria of molecular sequence comparisons, whereas each kingdom in our five-kingdom scheme is uniquely defined by the use of myriad semes of whole organisms. Molecular, morphological, developmental, metabolic, and other criteria are used. Pedagogically, proliferation of so many kingdoms in the three-domain system defeats the purpose of manageable classification." - Shouldn't this information be included somehow? Coddeau (talk) 20:34, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

I think it belongs at the main article Kingdom (biology), which is clearer that there is no consensus at present among biologists as to what the kingdoms should be. Margulis's view is certainly worth including, along with others. (However, her view that molecular evidence should not predominate seems to be very much a minority one.) The section here on the rank of kingdom should really be a short summary of that article, but I think they aren't entirely consistent at present – it's not sufficiently clear here that there's currently quite a muddle over which kingdoms to use. Peter coxhead (talk) 23:30, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Classification Is Different than Systematics[edit]

(I have posted this comment on the Talk:Systematics page as well.)

I see a serious problem with this treatment as well as the Systematics article, which links to this one. That is that the program of classification is very distinct from program of systematics, but the differences are not discussed (accurately) in either article. In brief, classification is based on the essentialist notion that biological entities represent "types" and that these can be sorted into classes based on their properties. They become members of the class and representatives of that type. This typological treatment cannot be evolutionary, though it often strives to be. In any case, the program of classification is waning in biology as we realize that classification is largely arbitrary and does not accurately reflect the dynamic and historical nature of life and evolution. Systematization is the endeavor to put biological entities into a system of relationships, which in the case of modern biology are evolutionary relationships. The objects are ordered as connected parts of a whole.

Unfortunately, these articles make pronouncements about classification being a part of or similar to systematics rather than a fundamentally different endeavor. These distinctions, while present in the older literature among theorists, did not come into the fore as an issue until the 1990s.

I think both of these articles should be updated. While WP is not the place to advocate one program over the other, it is true (and supportable with references) that classification and systematics are distinctly different and the former is falling out of favor while the latter is waxing.

This is also a sticky issue in regards to taxonomy, as some taxonomists prefer traditional classification-based taxonomies, while some (mostly systematists) prefer a rankless, phylogenetic nomenclature. It seems that most biologists recognize that taxonomic schemes should be largely evolutionary, but there is debate about whether paraphyletic groups should be allowed and whether taxonomic schemes need to exactly reflect evolutionary history, and if so, how the taxonomic schemes might work (e.g. phylocode).

The results of systematic research (evolutionary histories, often represented as evolutionary trees) can be used as the basis of a classification scheme, but increasingly biologists are forgoing classification, as biological objects are probably not fruitfully classifiable.

I plan to edit these two articles and see if others agree.Michaplot (talk) 00:38, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Are you sure you don't mean phylogeny rather than systematics? I agree that classification and "cladification" (to paraphrase Mayr) are not the same, but systematics can be either.Petter Bøckman (talk) 07:19, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
See also the discussion at Talk:Systematics#Systematics_Is_Not_Classification.
For me the problem is that to understand a sentence like this one above "some taxonomists prefer traditional classification-based taxonomies, while some (mostly systematists) prefer a rankless, phylogenetic nomenclature" requires a clear understanding of the terms "taxonomy", "classification", "systematics", and "nomenclature" (assuming "phylogeny" is straightforward). Unfortunately the literature, in my experience, does not contain a consensus as to the meaning of these terms, so it's hard to see what to do in Wikipedia; the existing articles are certainly very muddled, often under-referenced and sometimes wrong. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:57, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Full List of Taxonomic Ranks[edit]

The exhaustive site "Taxonomicon" included this list of ranks under the section "Biota":

Domain Kingdom Subkingdom Branch Infrakingdom Physlum Subphylum Infraphylum Superclass Series Class Subclass Infraclass Superlegion Legion Sublegion Infralegion Cupercohort Cohort Magnorder Superorder Grandorder Order Suborder Infraorder Parvorder Superfamily Family Subfamily Tribe Subtribe Genus Species Subspecies

I was just wondering if this complete list should be included on the site. Thanks, Seraph — Preceding unsigned comment added by Seraphnb (talkcontribs) 21:22, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Type is not category ?![edit]

The first sentence contains "a method to group and categorize organisms by biological type". The most reasonable interpretation of this is that "type" is used as a synonym of "category". But the linked explanation of biological type is that the type is a specimen, representing the taxon/species. So the intended meaning is that classification is a cagegorization of specimens? A genus is not a biological type. I think many readers miss the real meaning of this. --Ettrig (talk) 15:14, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the author of the sentence meant, but I think as it stands it's seriously flawed. Biological classification ... is a method to group and categorize organisms by biological type, such as genus or species.
  • The "such as" implies that "genus" or "species" are a "biological type", which could fit with the idea that "type" here means what the link implies, or it could just mean the rank of the group.
  • What exactly is "group and categorize" supposed to mean? Group them first and then put the groups into categories?
It needs completely re-writing in my view. The lead is too short anyway. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:41, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Cladistics in the lede[edit]

The following was just added:

"Cladistics has thus emerged as the dominant form of classification in contemporary biology, in which organisms are grouped based on evolutionary relatedness rather than morphological similarity."

This isn't entirely right. First off, cladistics is a method, not a classification scheme, it is important to keep the distinction in mind. The classification scheme based purely on cladistics is called phylogenetic nomenclature. I believe this scheme is a quite ubiquitous in some parts of biology, notably in "deep phylogeny" and dinosaur studies, but not in all branches. Laurin indicates in his 2010 article that hierarchical (i.e. Linnaean) systematics is about 10 times as common as non-hierarchical (i.e. phylogenetic) nomenclature (or at least were when he wrote that). While I feel phylogenetic nomenclature should be mentioned in the lede, I think a wording like "has come to challenge" or "have become the norm in certain areas" or something in that vein would be more appropriate. Some sources wouldn't hurt either. Petter Bøckman (talk) 20:43, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

So change or revert my edit if you feel its wrong. I don't get hung up on these little things. Cadiomals (talk) 20:49, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Some editors get quite upset when I edit their recent additions, and I'm a consensus-kind of guy. I'll edit at once. Petter Bøckman (talk) 20:53, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Actually you worded it better and more accurately than me. I normally only get upset at changes in my edits if they were complete reverts. But if someone modifies or removes my statement because they showed it was somehow in error, I'm fine with it. So thanks for your consideration. Cadiomals (talk) 21:17, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Petter, did you really meant to imply, as you did above, that Linnaean nomenclature is hierarchical whereas phylogenetic nomenclature is non-hierarchical? Since both systems produce strict trees of named taxonomic units (TUs), they are both necessarily hierarchical. The difference lies in the existence of named ranks in the Linnaean system, so you can immediately tell whether a TU is above or below another TU on the same branch, whereas in phylogenetic nomenclature, which uses only "clade" as the 'rank' of a TU, you have either to learn all the clade names and their ordering or to look at the tree to know the ordering within a branch. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:36, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
What i was trying (but failed) to imply was that phylogenetic nomenclature lacks the fixed levels (class, order etc) of Linnaean nomenclature. The language difference between English and Norwegian is quite pronounced at this point, could you please have a look at it? Petter Bøckman (talk) 09:45, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
What's in the article is correct, but not, I would say, complete. As we both know only too well from trying to edit articles like Monophyly, this is a difficult area to explain clearly and in accordance with WP:NPOV. Here's what I think needs to be explained about Linnaean vs. phylogenetic classification:
  1. Linnaean nomenclature uses a fixed number of principal ranks whose hierarchical order can be determined by the name alone. This fixed number can be extended by using intermediate ranks like "super-", "sub-", "infra-", etc.
    Current status of article: The first part is explained, the second is not. This is easy to fix and I will do so.
  2. Linnaean classification came before Darwin, so it was at first based on morphology alone. Now it's based on evolutionary history and morphology, where evolutionary history may be inferred by genetic data (extant species) or by morphological characteristics (extinct species).
    Current status of article: "evolutionary taxonomy" is well-covered, although perhaps it's not as clear as it could be that evolutionary history has to be inferred and that this has to be done differently for extant and extinct groups.
  3. Linnaean classification can use non-monophyletic groups as taxa. It's rare (non-existent??) today to deliberately choose polyphyletic groups, but some biologists are still deliberately using paraphyletic groups, although this seems to be diminishing.
    Current status of article: I think there needs to be a bit more about how in practice biologists are currently producing new Linnaean classifications. This is difficult to source, though.
  4. Strict phylogenetic classification uses only clades above the species level. Hence (a) only monophyletic groups are used; (b) there is not a fixed number of ranks; (c) the order of clades along a branch cannot be determined only by the name of the taxa.
    Current status of article: This isn't the place for a major comparison of the two approaches, but I think the article is currently thin and doesn't really express (a)–(c) well.
Exactly how to make changes is not clear to me. Already there is too much that does not have inline citations. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:27, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
Just a suggestion in case anyone is planning to wrestle more with describing phylogenetic nomenclature: there is a proposal to remove all mention of species from the Phylocode (which I suspect would simplify things), so delay seems an appropriate strategy. Here Nadiatalent (talk) 12:21, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Well, you cleaned up after my mess, so now at least it's correct. I suppose it will have to do for now. Petter Bøckman (talk) 12:22, 22 March 2012 (UTC)


Linnaean taxonomy and Biological classification have the same interwiki. -- (talk) 11:35, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

What are you referring to? Are you saying that the two articles link to a single article in another language? Which language? And it may well be that such links are appropriate, depending on what an article in another language covers. -- Donald Albury 00:03, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
It's a difficult problem. I was able to fix a few at Linnean taxonomy by copying from the French page, but most of them require reading the various languages. Some languages have a page named for the Linnean sexual system for classifying plants, but perhaps that is't general enough. Nadiatalent (talk) 19:24, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

Orphaned references in Biological classification[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of Biological classification's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "CavalierSmith2004":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 20:20, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

so now i know what the classification of animals mean thanks to wikipedia this isnt my frist time in this website youv also helped me with cells and things about jfk its good having a website like this on a computer to help people your ♯1 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:40, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Need the section for criticism/limits[edit]

the reverted edit added balance to the article. There are many criticism to the classification system in the scientific community. It should be included. Many balanced wikipedia articles have a section for criticism. (talk) 00:04, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Balance is a good thing, but it needs to have carefully written context, explained in such a way that the average reader can understand it. As a biologist, I don't understand the material. "Reference points are life forms with particular features" sounds just like the type system to me, and "other life forms are tagged by its evolutionary distance to the references points" (has poor grammar and) sounds like a component of phenetics. "In the alternative system. Homo sapiens can be labelled as ‘Homo-sapiens, homo.sapiens, homosapiens, sapiens1, sapiens0127654 and so on'", isn't meaningful without sufficient context. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 22:29, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Similar material was added at Taxonomy (biology) and removed by other editors. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 22:40, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • It is a math problem. It is not a typical biological problem. Biologist may not be able to understand it. It is a choice between discrete mathematics(classification) vs real numbers (alternatives, such as the proposed reference points).
  • 'isn't meaningful without sufficient context' The source didn't provide more detail. I was trying to be accurate of sources.
  • no, the alternative about the reference points is not types or phenetics, (both are still some sort of classification). It is a vector space, that is defined by axes. All life forms are dots in the spaces. The coordinators of the life forms in the space are the identifications. (talk) 23:55, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Anon. To save confusion and duplication I would suggest we have this discussion over on the Taxonomy talk page and then report back the outcome here. Cheers Andrew (talk) 02:35, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Mismatched heirarchies on wiki pages[edit]

Hi I'm not the expert of classification here, my only qualification for this edit is that I'm confused. I'm also not familiar with how wikipedia works, so apologies if this edit is out of place, please tell me how I should have done it.

In and lots of other plant entries on the right hand side I find

Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Rosids Order: Malpighiales Family: Hypericaceae Genus: Hypericum Species: H. perforatum

But when I click "Scientific classification" I get a different sequence

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species

So Phylum & Class get swapped to (unranked) (unranked) (unranked). So I spose I have questions about why there are 3 levels of unranked instead of the two indicated, and, although labelled as unranked, they obviously comply with come sort of heirarchical scheme, what is is?

This query / suggestion doesn't involve eg where "Subclass" is reasonably self explanatory. Similarly in subdivisions like "Superorder Order Suborder Infraorder Superfamily Epifamily Family Subfamily Infrafamily" are self explanatory. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:40, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

Hi These "unranked" groups are called "clades" (see Phylogenetic nomenclature and Evolutionary taxonomy). They represent a group of organisms that all arose from a single ancestor (monophyly). They don't necessarily fit into the traditional concept of ranks (at least not yet), but they are accurate when it comes to tracing the evolutionary history of taxonomic groups. Plants, especially, are currently undergoing major revisions to classification and it's not settled yet (see Angiosperm Phylogeny Group).-- OBSIDIANSOUL 07:02, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
To add a bit more to Obsidian Soul's clear response: the Biological classification article represents what is becoming a slightly out-of-date view. It's correct in that it describes what ranks are available for use. However, increasingly biologists are not using all of the formal ranks. For example, I have several editions of what used to be Barnes Invertebrate Zoology and is now Ruppert, Fox & Barnes Invertebrate Zoology. Earlier editions very much used the Phylum – Class – Order – Family hierarchy. The 7th edition has a section on p. 4 called "Downplaying the Linnean Categories" explaining that the book "largely dispenses with the Linnean categories" (i.e. formal ranks). They write things like "ArthropodaP" meaning that if you want you can treat the clade Arthropoda as a Phylum. The APG III system we use for plants does use formal ranks up to Orders, but not higher than that. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:52, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

OS & PC thanks Garry (AKA unsigned) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:59, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Garry again. I thought this was rather good, hope you enjoy.

In his essay, “John Wilkin’s Analytical Language”, the Argentinian writer Borges (1960) remarks on the classification which Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia, Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. In those remote pages it is stated that animals can be divided into the following classes: a) Belonging to the Emperor b) Embalmed c) Trained d) Sucking pigs e) Mermaids f) Fabulous g) Stray dogs h) Included in this classification i) With the vigorous movements of madmen j) Innumerable k) Drawn with a very fine camel hair brush l) Etcetera m) Having just broken a large vase n) Looking from a distance like flies (Borges, 1960; trans M.E.Dewey) Bentall, Richard P. “The classification of schzophrenia” In chapter 2 of Kavanagh, David J. “Schizophrenia: An Overview and Practical Handbook” Nelson Thornes 1992 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:56, 7 January 2015 (UTC)


Am I alone in finding the article unnecessarily confusing and repetitive? The introduction states: Biological to group and categorize organisms hierarchically. and continues The groups in the classification are known as taxa (singular: taxon). This is then repeated under Defintion: "The arrangement of entities in a hierarchical series of nested classes, in which similar or related classes at one hierarchical level are combined comprehensively into more inclusive classes at the next higher level." (the second phrase appear to be tautological with the first) A simple introduction would be: Biological classification is a hierarchy of biological groupings (taxa), the levels of which are called ranks. The internationaly agreed version contains seven main levels . The article states that Ranks between the seven..can be produced by adding prefixes such as "super-", "sub-" or "infra-". Thus a subclass has a rank between class and order, a superfamily between order and family. Yet in the diagram, which appears twice on the page, the main ranks include "Legion" and "Tribe", ranks not mentioned anywhere else in the article. No explanation of the diagram is offered and, while its logic can be deduced, because its structure is ordered from left to right and not from top to bottom as the rest of the diagrams are and because many of the terms are introduced and appear only in the diagram, this is a non-trivial task. The system described seems incimplete as it stands or other aarticles eg Bacteria are. Bacteria has no other scientific classification than its domain. LookingGlass (talk) 21:42, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

Repetitive, no. The lead (introduction) should be a summary of the rest of the article, so should contain nothing not repeated elsewhere. Confusing, yes. One problem is that there is no "internationally agreed version" of the ranks. Different nomenclature codes govern different groups of organisms; widely used ranks, such as "domain", don't feature in the codes and so aren't, strictly speaking, formal "ranks". There is absolutely no consensus on higher level classification, e.g. what the kingdoms are. The article badly needs improving, but is still going to be complex. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:04, 18 March 2015 (UTC)