The Classifications of Life



Have you ever heard of KPCOFGS - King Philip Came Over From Great Spain? That's an easy way to remember how life is organized into groups.

It's not easy to classify life. Life is very diverse and we learn more about living creatures every day. If you want, read How Classifications have changed over time. As we discover new types of life - such as bacteria and virusses - we have to add them to our tree and figure out where they fit in. We currently have Four Major Kingdoms of life, each with thousands of members.

The system we use today was designed by Carl Linneaus, born in 1707 in Sweden. He became a professor and as his students roamed the globe, they sent him back samples of things they found. He studied these various items and came up with a way to classify them. His original classifications were based on male/female divisions in plants and animals - but items have been rearranged quite a bit since those early days.

The Linneaus system originally had five levels:

Kingdom (plant, animal)
Class
Order
Genus
Species

We now have seven different levels in our system:

Kingdom (5)
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species

Undoubtedly, as we learn more about the wide variety of life that lives in all corners of our planet, the classifications will grow and change even more!



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