Scientific classification of species

It’s Carolus LINNAEUS (Swedish naturalist, 18th century) who first came up with a way to classify the many organisms. He created the binomial nomenclature: each species would be precisely defined by two words only.

Why use the scientific classification of species?

Why did he feel the need to create this classification? Well, for the very same species you may have several common names.
Let’s take an example: the Japanese honeysuckle can also be commonly called “golden-and-silver honeysuckle”. People knowing the same plant under two different names might think that they’re not talking about the same plant. This is why using its binomial name, “Lonicera japonica”, is the surest way to avoid any confusion and make sure that we’re talking about the same plant.

How does the scientific classification of species work?

The scientific classification of species looks a bit like a family tree. It’s made of 8 “main levels” (there are also sub-levels within those “main levels”, but I’m going to keep it simple in this article).

What are the 8 levels of the scientific classification of species?

  1. DOMAIN
  2. KINGDOM
  3. PHYLUM
  4. CLASS
  5. ORDER
  6. FAMILY
  7. GENUS
  8. SPECIES

How do you write a binomial name?

  • Both words composing a binomial name are latin words.
  • The first word is the genus of that species (i.e.: the Japanese honeysuckle’s genus name is: Lonicera).
  • And the second one is the species name (i.e.: the Japanese honeysuckle’s species name is: japonica).

There’s a specific way to write down a binomial name:

  • The entire binomial name is written in italics (i.e.: Lonicera japonica).
  • The first letter of the genus name must be capitalised (i.e.: Lonicera japonica).