Carl Linnaeus

Binomial Nomenclature:
What's In a (Scientific) Name?

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Article Summary: Here's a clear summary of the Linnean system of binomial nomenclature, the scientific way to name living things with a two part generic (genus) and specific (species) name.
Biological Classification & Binomial Nomenclature

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Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), a Swedish physician and botanist, was the founder of modern taxonomy. He originated a system called binomial nomenclature which is used for naming living things and grouping similar organisms into categories. 
Illustration of Hierarchy of Biological Classification
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Taxonomy is used in the related discipline of biological systematics, when scientists try to determine the evolutionary relationships between organisms (how closely related they are to each other). 

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Today, biologists still use the Linnean system of classification, but advances in the fields of genetics and evolutionary theory has resulted in some of Linnaeus’ original categories being changed to better reflect the relationships among organisms.

Hierarchy of Biological Classification
All life can be classified in increasingly specific groups, starting by sorting all life into three Domains (Archaea, Eubacteria and Eukaryota) and ending with the most specific category, the individual species. And every species has its own name. 
Illustration of Hierarchy of Biological Classification
Use this sentence to remember the levels of biological classification in order from most general to most specific: "Little darling King Phillip came over for green soup."
Binomial Nomenclature
Also called binary nomenclature, this formal system of naming organisms consists of two Latinized names, the genus and the species. All living things, and even some viruses, have a scientific name.


See Page 2 for more images and an excellent video on Taxonomy!

See the Biological Classification Lecture Main Page for all of our FREE teaching materials on this topic!