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For other discussion on this topic see Talk:Phylum (biology)


What happened to phylum protozoa? I guess it's been a long time since I took a biology class... [unsigned]

have a look under Protist and protozoa. KimvdLinde 05:09, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm... okay, Protista is the newer name. It's still not listed here. I find the list here a little confusing. It appears to only list Phyla of the Animal Kingdom. Is it intended only as an example or a work in progress? I initially missed the title and assumed the table was a list of all Phyla. [unsigned]

Requested move[edit]

I requested this change on October 2, 2005. I feel the biological sense is the dominant meaning for phlyum. No one commented on the proposal, and after two weeks, an administrator moved thepages. A few hours later, another user left a message on the talk page saying he disagreed with the move that had just been done, and now moved them back. I don't wish to move-war over this, and I'd like to see more support for this one way or the other. — Knowledge Seeker 03:36, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Apologies for not being clear. My proposal was to move Phylum to Phylum (disambiguation), and to then move Phylum (biology) to Phylum. However, on Talk:Phylum (biology), User:Encephalon proposed an even better idea, in my opinion; with only two articles, there is no need to disambiguate. Delete the current Phylum (disambiguation page); move Phylum (biology) here, and place a "for the use of phylum in lingusitics" message at the top of the biological Phylum article. — Knowledge Seeker 05:01, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one sentence explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~
  • Support as its moving Phylum (biology) to Phylum - but I can count your opinion as-is too. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 22:55, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Support: biological meaning is more common and having it as a primary disambiguation will simplify inline linking in the very large number of wikipedia articles in which it occurs. Jonathunder 06:24, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Support having the biological meaning at phylum, with primary topic disambiguation. The biological meaning is overwhelmingly more common. "Language family" is more common term in linguistics. Gdr 21:59, 24 October 2005 (UTC)


Add any additional comments

I think the biological meaning is primary. Does that mean I support the proposal or oppose? Put the question, please. Quintusdecimus

The term was introduced by Cuvier, and adopted in the 1871 (?) Paris convention. I'll look up the details. John Wilkins 09:57, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Some Confusion[edit]

The top of the article makes no sense. It seems to be some sort of list which perhaps should belong (formatted properly) in the rest of the article. 01:46, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

We missed some vandalism, I am restoring it right now. KimvdLinde 02:15, 5 May 2006 (UTC)


I removed the Pentastomida from this list; most experts consider them to be arthropods. Gdr 17:06, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I see several other adjustments have been made (which is fine) but I think everybody should bear in mind that this is a contentious and rapidly changing area, so it may never be possible to produce a difinitive list all can agree on. [unsigned]


Does Vetulicolia belong on this list somewhere? Bob the Hamster 21:48, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

If it's to be included it should be put under a separate heading - "Extinct Phyla" perhaps. I'm not sure it's worthwhile to include extinct phyla but I'm also not sure I can back that up with any solid reasoning. (talk) 21:05, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

List of animal phyla[edit]

The first line of this table was garbled and the headings were missing. I have just fixed that. But now ... why are the "best known animal phyla", Mollusca, Porifera, Arthropoda, Chordata etc, NOT in the table? I assume that *cannot* be a mere oversight, and there must be some rationale for omitting them??? 19:35, 30 May 2006 (UTC) Frank

Thanks, but the stuff was more messed up than I thought, and the vandalism had been missed for over 2 weeks, which is extreme long at wikipedia. Thanks for trying to repair it. -- Kim van der Linde at venus 02:12, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

List of plant phyla[edit]

I suggest the phyla (divisions) of algae are included: Rhodophyta, Chlorophyta, Phaeophyta/Heterokontophyta (I need to do some homework here!) Osborne 13:55, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

The brown algae are now ranked as a class (Phaeophyceae) rather than as a division/phylum. --EncycloPetey (talk) 22:59, 21 December 2010 (UTC)


I looked up "Pteridophyta" on Wikipedia itself but it claims it is an invalid taxon. Can someone delete it or change it to "Pteridophyta(invalid)"?

Miozoa and Sulcozoa[edit]

Both of them are available on Wikipedia, but not under those names, instead you can get their pages by searching "Myzozoa" and "Cercozoa". Can somebody edit it so it shows the correct/different spelling and have a link?

Katie Don't?[edit]

The change from "Phylum" to "Division" by botanists also changes the handy way of remembering the taxonomic classifications used by students. Instead of Katie Please Come Over For Ginger Snaps I guess the botany students will be saying Katie Don't Come Over For Ginger Snaps. Not as easy to remember.Kdwillis 18:02, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

Or as enjoyable for Katie. CFLeon 00:35, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Tree of Phyla[edit]

Should this entry not aim to show the tree of phyla and the relationship between them - eg the close link between chordates and echinoderms and the grouping of animal phyla into bilateral and radial groups? [unsigned]

clickable diagram[edit]

Does anyone know how to make clickable the parts of the diagram showing the different levels of taxa (phylum, kingdom, etc.)? I'd like to be able to click on 'species' as a link, and not be taken to a blowup of the whole diagram. Kaimiddleton 08:29, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Bacteria and Archaea[edit]

Why are all bacterial and archaean phyla missing from the lists? These really need to be added. TimVickers 19:21, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

I would suggest because nobody confident enough in their knowledge has been inclined to create lists for these. Trewornan (talk) 23:29, 20 January 2009 (UTC)


In addition to the above, there is a lot of scope for some discussion of the origin of phyla in this article; the coverage is sparse and was incorrect. The Budd reference is especially essential reading in terms of countering the populist (and IMO incorrect) Gouldian view pushed in Wonderful life. Verisimilus T 16:21, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

biological taxonomy[edit]

is there some actual defining term or word for biological taxonomy that is used commonly? I mean, as far as i can tell, there isn't even a wikipedia article dedicated to describing the whole system of classification used by biologists, botanists, etc. If there's some common term, it could be looked up easily in wikipedia. Maybe it's fine as a subtopic in a "taxonomy" article, I dunno. Any thoughts? Ormewood (talk) 02:04, 19 January 2008 (UTC)


Some images would really liven up this article as well as give laymen some sense of perspective. Shinobu (talk) 01:32, 12 February 2008 (UTC)


How come the animals are all worms? Where are the phylums with dogs and sharks[?] I'm desperate here!Jamhaw (talk) 19:56, 14 March 2008 (UTC)jamhaw

All of the vertebrates come under the phylum Chordata ExNihilo (talk) 20:39, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
By the way, the plural is 'phyla'. CFLeon (talk) 02:06, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

These are actually two very good questions and should be covered in the article more explicitly, the first is more difficult to answer succinctly but it should be possible to put in something basic without getting too tied up in stuff which isn't completely relevant. (talk) 22:09, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

more phylum[edit]

i need to know more about phylum im doing a school project on phylum and im only in sixth grade give me more info but shorter words —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:31, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

The very first sentence disagrees with the diagram[edit]

This is the current version of the first sentence of this article:

In biological taxonomy, a phylum (plural: phyla) is a taxonomic rank at the level below Kingdom and above Class.

The diagram to the right hand side, however, has "phylum" above kingdom and below "class". Can someone please fix this? Kaimiddleton (talk) 03:36, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Everything is in the correct sequence, but this diagram runs from bottom to top instead of top to bottom. Plantsurfer (talk) 07:28, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Where is/are Oomycota in the fungal division section?[edit]

We are currently studying for the RHS Level 3 certificate in horticulture and have been taught about the Division Oomycota amongst the fungi. It is not included on this page - is it defunct, has our lecturer made a mistake or indeed are the RHS behind the times (easily true)? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:48, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Arguably Oomycota are heterokonts rather than fungi (in the strict sense) which is why they're not included under the list of fungal divisions. In other words they're more closely related to algae than to fungi generally despite their fungal characteristics. Since nobody has as yet been inclined to add a list covering bacteria, algae, etc they are not mentioned. But check with your lecturer (and I'd appreciate it if you came back and corrected me if I'm wrong). (talk) 21:25, 27 January 2009 (UTC)


"In fact, a phylum is perhaps best described as a statement of taxonomic ignorance." A word is not a statement. Unfree (talk) 02:33, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

"Phylum" is a word "a phylum" is a thing and saying it's "a statement" is metaphor. Trewornan (talk) 22:32, 7 June 2011 (UTC)


"'Phylum' is equivalent to the botanical term division." This statement seems to imply that "phylum" is not a botanical term, suggesting it is probably a zoological one, and that "division" is the proper term to use in botany in place of "phylum", in which case, why does "division" redirect here? It needs to be more explicit, and if "phylum" is enclosed in quotation marks, so should "division" be. Unfree (talk) 02:45, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Opening paragraph needs rewording[edit]

Good God, how did this even slip by peer review?

"Phylum is one of the major biological divisions called Taxa. Although "phylum" is often used as if it were a clearly defined term, no satisfactory definition of it exists. In fact, "phylum" may be a misnomer indicative of ignorance"

Stating confidently "Phylum is one of the major biological divisions..." then ending it with "phylum may be a misnomer indicative of ignorance" is just flat out going to confuse anyone who isn't familiar with biology. Especially when it's in the opening paragraph of the article.

Is it possible we can put criticism of the term in it's own section? I just can't imagine being able to put "no satisfactory definition" right after giving it's definition (and without any deeper details then unnamed authors can't reach a compromise) without expecting to leave readers wondering if the peer review system was a horrible idea.

We should also remember that while some written work is very thorough and may have no errors, these kinds of books and authors capable of writing them are very rare. It would be wiser instead of using unknown authors if we could find the most commonly accepted definition for Phylum, and use that as a template, then using authors we can name that disagree with the establishment come back and add why they take issue with the common definition. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Agree. Ordinary Person (talk) 11:25, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Edited the intro: it seemed amateurish. If someone wants to re-establish the material about ignorance in the body of the article, go ahead.Ordinary Person (talk) 14:54, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

"Phylum is one of the major biological divisions called Taxa."

Aside from the unneeded capitalization, this isn't even correct. "Phylum" is not a taxon, it's a taxonomic rank. A taxon is a specific named group of organisms such as "Phylum Chordata." By analogy, "state" is a rank, while "Texas," "Montana,"and "Vermont" are taxa at the hierarchical rank of "state". And we've already identified phylum as a taxonomic rank in the first sentence. I'm just going to delete this sentence. It's just wrong, and at best superfluous. (talk) 20:44, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Extinct phyla[edit]

Just to add to this page's numerous problems: should we include extinct phyla? Totnesmartin (talk) 11:52, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

Dear god no. Maybe a link to a list of lists of extinct phyla. --Danger (talk) 13:15, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
That's an interesting idea perhaps we could remove all the lists to a seperate page? Trewornan (talk) 19:10, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
I like the idea of a separate List of phyla (currently redirects to the "Known phyla" section) that includes all phyla, extinct and extant.Lusanaherandraton (talk) 04:20, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Superphylum and subphylum[edit]

I'm trying to understand why, when, where, and/or by who the terms superphylum and subphylum would be used. For example, the Mollusca article uses superphylum and phylum in its infobox while the Insecta article has phylum and subphylum. Neither superphylum nor subphylum are mentioned in the biological classification article at all. The taxonomic rank and phylum articles mention the terms but does not explain why, when, where, and/or by who they are used.

At present superphylum redirects to phylum. Subphylum has it's own article but that gives no information other than the rather obvious "subphylum is a taxonomic rank intermediate between phylum and superclass" and does not explain why/when/where/who subphylum are used. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:05, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Referencing / taxonomy as opinion[edit]

What this article lacks, as do many of the articles on taxonomy and biological classification, is a clear presentation of the idea that any biological classification represents the opinion of an individual or group. It is a 'scientific' opinion, in that it can't just be arbitrary, but needs to be supported by argument and verifiable evidence, but in the end different taxonomists can legitimately make different judgements based on the same evidence. Therefore there just are no definitive lists of phyla (or any other taxonomic rank). There are lists of phyla according to X, or Y, or Z. It may be that at any one time there is an overwhelming consensus as to the list of phyla or divisions (although having studied classification on and off since 1966, I can only say that it doesn't seem so to me!). An important consequence is that all lists or definitions of taxonomic ranks MUST be referenced. The lists in the article are not, which renders them inappropriate for Wikipedia: they represent just one unsourced point of view. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:41, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Inconsistency with plants[edit]

From the intro the kingdom Plantae contains 12 divisions, but the table under plant divisions lists only 11 divisions. Which is correct? Should the intro be edited to read "the kingdom Plantae contains 11 divisions", or is there a division missing from the table? XinaNicole (talk) 05:57, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

The answer is that a much larger range of numbers would really be "correct". Definitions of the kingdom vary hugely, as do the divisions. The number also depends on whether you include extinct plants or not. Thus in the taxobox at Plantae there are 17 divisions + one group (Horneophytopsida) unplaced in a division. What should always be written is something like "one classification of the kingdom contains NUMBER divisions" + a reference to support this. Unfortunately, this isn't the case at present in most Wikipedia articles.
The reality is that none of the classifications of the kingdom down to division level has a modern (say post-1995) consensus to support it. There are two reasons for this.
  1. Biologists concerned with extinct plants (palaeobotanists) have long used a very different set of divisions, in which either all the vascular plants are put into a single division or all the polysporangiophytes are put into a single division.
  2. Most modern researchers favour clade-based approaches and do not convert their cladograms into Linnean ranks like division.
The figure of 12 probably comes from the table at Plantae#Diversity. The list of divisions here should be referenced, but isn't. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:45, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Reference tags[edit]

Why are these necessary? Every page linked under the tagged sections has its own references. INBN (talk) 19:19, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Good question, which I asked when I started editing Wikipedia. The answer is that this approach treats the linked pages as sources, but Wikipedia pages may not used as sources for each other (see e.g. WP:CIRCULAR). So the references need to be copied across to this article and cited inline as appropriate. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:58, 6 September 2011 (UTC)


I think Echiura should be included as they are generally regarded as a separate phylum. LieutenantLatvia (talk) 23:34, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

By all means include them, provided that you can cite a reliable source which says that they are a phylum. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:25, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
The most recent literature seems to place them as a subtaxon of Annelida. Danger High voltage! 21:35, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
Are these reliable sources?, LieutenantLatvia (talk) 11:52, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Sure, but they're a bit old. Danger High voltage! 12:51, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Some papers that include Echiura (and Sipuncula) in Annelida:
  • McHugh D (1997) Molecular evidence that echiurans and pogonophorans are derived annelids. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94: 8006–8009. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.15.8006.
  • Struck TH, Schult N, Kusen T, Hickman E, Bleidorn C, et al. (2007) Annelid phylogeny and the status of Sipuncula and Echiura. BMC Evol Biol 7: 57. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-7-57.
  • Struck TH, Paul C, Hill N, Hartmann S, Hösel C, et al. (2011) Phylogenomic analyses unravel annelid evolution. Nature 471: 95–98. doi: 10.1038/nature09864.
  • Goto R, Okamoto T, Ishikawa H, Hamamura Y, Kato M (2013) Molecular Phylogeny of Echiuran Worms (Phylum: Annelida) Reveals Evolutionary Pattern of Feeding Mode and Sexual Dimorphism. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56809. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056809

Burmeister (talk) 13:45, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Hmmm.... Maybe it could be included as a disputed phyla? LieutenantLatvia (talk) 13:57, 24 May 2013 (UTC)


User:Sminthopsis84, Basidiomycota has not been dropped. There is a table of the 6 phyla in the article which is where I got the number 6 from (the opening should sum up the article) but I now see that section has been tagged for no refs so it is entirely appropriate that this statement is also tagged in the opening. ♫ SqueakBox talk contribs 19:29, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

I'm confused, where are you seeing that? Wherever I look I see seven. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 19:44, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Try looking on the page. ♫ SqueakBox talk contribs 13:10, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

Unnecessary dumbing down[edit]

The idea that our readers are too preciou or just too stupid to undertand what technical terms like extant or embryophyte mean seems a bizarre claim, given that (a) we have wikipedia for simple explanation and (b) we dont dumb down in other articles so why would we do so in this one? If you think our polivies demand we dumb down please show me the policy. ♫ SqueakBox talk contribs 13:10, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

See MOS:JARGON. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:43, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

Animal phyla changes[edit]

I made a few changes to the Animal phyla chart. Hemichordata used to list "acorn worms" as the common name for this phyla, and while acorn worms are hemichordates, not all hemichordates are acorn worms. They are only one class within this phylum, so I have removed that name. Similarly, I removed "anemones/jellyfish" for Cnidaria, in favor of the more inclusive (if less specific) cnidarians.

I also noticed that both Acoelomorpha and Xenacoeolomorpha were listed. I'm not a biologist (and I was absent on frog-dissecting day in high school!), but I gather that the former is already included in the latter, so I have removed Acoels...

Phylum Meaning Common name Distinguishing characteristic Species described
Acoelomorpha Without gut Acoels No mouth or alimentary canal (alimentary canal = digestive tract in digestive system) approx. 350

...and placed them here in case we need to add them back (I get the impression these definitions aren't settled). Lusanaherandraton (talk) 06:03, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Protista rewrite[edit]

The Protista section was based on an uncredited chart (from a textbook?) included in an instructor's slideshow, so I figured it should be updated. Finding a replacement was tough, though! Kingdom Protista seems to be less and less formally accepted these days, and every person who does use it seems to have their own unique set of phyla. I didn't want to construct some kind of compromise system, since that could be original research, but I had trouble figuring out if one system was more widely accepted than the others. The International Society of Protistologists has adopted their own taxonomy, which sounds nice and official, but since they deliberately avoid rank names, there are technically no phyla in their scheme. Fortunately, I didn't have to guess since the Catalogue of Life had blended the ISP system with Linnaean taxonomy. Using their list means that some phyla don't appear in any chart on the page as it stands (Rhodophyta, Glaucophyta, Chlorophyta & Charophyta at least) but I don't know whether these should be added to the Plant table, the Protist table, or left in the body of the text (which seems unfair). Lusanaherandraton (talk) 13:13, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Also note that Microsporidia is currently in both the Protist and Fungi lists. Not sure if anything needs to be done about that. Lusanaherandraton (talk) 13:22, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Plant rewrite[edit]

Okay, in the interest of table completeness, I went ahead and refocused the Plant section on all Archaeplastida, rather than just Embryophyta with a brief nod to green algae. I guess the other possibility (other than leaving them out of the tables altogether, which seems wrong) would be to stick the algae under Protista, but that would defy the source used for the protist phyla. Of course, using the Cavalier-Smith definition of Plantae but not the exact set of phyla he proposes could also be seen as a novel synthesis. How to best balance traditional pedagogy with recent research? O, handwringing! Lusanaherandraton (talk) 09:46, 30 December 2016 (UTC)

Cavalier-Smith's views in general are contentious, and we need to be careful not to give him undue prominence. What is important is to stress, strongly and repeatedly, that (a) molecular phylogenetic methods are still changing our understanding of deep phylogeny (the monophyly of traditional bryophytes has been 'disproved' and 're-established' by different recent studies) (b) there is simply no consensus whatsoever on the divisions into which plants, however defined, should be divided. Readers want clear, simple answers to questions (such as how many kingdoms are there? how many plant divisions are there? what are they?), but such answers simply don't exist at present, and we have to say so. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:19, 30 December 2016 (UTC)