List of Categories of Life


KINGDOM Animalia

PHYLUM Chordata

CLASS Mammalia

ORDER Primates

FAMILY Hominoidea


SPECIES Homo sapiens**

**The species name always consists of the Genus name (Homo)
and a specific epithet (sapiens) and is usually italicized
or underlined.

While biologists agree upon the classification system (there are some exceptions; botanists may use the term Division instead of Phylum, and biologists often used more categories such as "subphylum" or "superclass"), there is often much discussion as to how organisms should be classified. Because biologists continue to learn more about the evolutionary history of life, the classification of organisms is being constantly argued and revised. For example, from the time of Aristotle, to the 1960's, biologists divided all of life into two kingdoms; plants and animals. In 1959 R. H. Whittaker proposed a five kingdom system, which, because of it's logically separation of biological life, has become generally accepted.

To standardize our data collection, we will follow the five kingdom taxonomy scheme in our studies. We will focus our investigation on the animal kingdom. Below is a very abbreviated outline of the taxonomy of life, along with a general description of each taxon to help with some of your classification (you will still need to do some library research on your own). Try to identify all of the animals you observe at your study site down to their order taxon.

Despite the overall logic of the classification system, you will find that just about every taxon has "exceptions to the rule." For example; snakes are tetrapods (4-legged animals); a platypus is a mammal that lays eggs (and a few reptiles give birth to live young); and an octopus is a mollusk without a shell.



K - Monera (Greek - single, solitary): Simple cellular

structure, no organelles (prokaryotes vs. eukaryotes). Ex.

bacteria, blue-green algae.

K - Protoctista (Greek - very first to establish): The

kingdom is defined by exclusion. Those organisms that are

not plants, animals, or fungi. Ex. nucleated algae such as

seaweeds, protozoans, and slime molds.

K - Fungi (Latin, derived from Greek - sp(h)onges, sponges):

Obtain food through absorption, excrete enzymes for

digestion. Ex. molds, mushrooms, lichens.

K - Plantae (Latin - plant): Multicellular organisms that

are autotrophic (make complex "food" molecules from basic

constituents). Most use photosynthesis. Ex. mosses, ferns,

grasses, flowers, trees.

K - Animalia (Latin - breath, soul): Multicellular organisms

that develop from the fertilization of an egg by a sperm.

Heterotrophic (obtain food by ingestion). Ex. sponges,

worms, insects, fish, birds, humans.



There are approximately 32 Phyla in the animal kingdom.

Only 12 are reported here.

P - Porifera (Latin - to bear pores): Sponges.


P - Cnidaria (Greek - nettle): Also known as Coelenterates

(Greek - hollow intestine). Most are marine, some

are freshwater.


C - Hydrozoa: Hydras.

C - Scyphozoa: True jellyfish.

C - Anthozoa: Corals, sea anemones.


P - Platyhelminthes (Greek - flat worm): Bilateral

symmetry. Have organs and tissues. Marine,

freshwater, moist soils, parasitic.


C - Turbellaria: Free living flatworms.


O - Neorhabdocoela: Marine and freshwater


C - Trematoda: Flukes (internal and external


C - Cestoda: Tapeworms (internal parasites).


P - Nemertina (Greek - sea nymph): Usually found in

coastal intertidal zones.


P - Rotifera (Latin - to bear wheel): Named for the

characteristic crown of cilia around the head of the

animal that, when beating, looks like a rotating


P - Nematoda (Greek - thread): Roundworms. Lack

segmentation, lack cilia. Common soil worms. It is

estimated that there are on average one billion

(1,000,000,000) nematodes in the first 2 cm of 1

acre of top soil. Ex. Ascaris, Caenorhabdites,



C - Adenophorea: Also called aphasmidia. Lack sense


C - Secernentea: Also called phasmidia. Have

sense organs.


P - Brachiopoda (Greek - Latin arm foot): These animals

superficially resemble clams, however shell

orientation is on top and bottom (bivalves of the

phylum Mollusca have shells that form on the left

and right side). This phylum mostly consists of

intertidal and subtidal marine animals.


C - Inarticulata: Lack hinges between the valves.

The valves look very similar.

C - Articulata: Valves have hinges, and look very



P - Mollusca (Latin - soft): Soft bodied animals with

an internal or external shell. This is the second

largest phylum (second to Arthropoda).


C - Monoplacophora: One flat shell. Found in deep


C - Aplacophora: Deep sea worms

C - Polyplacophera: Chitons

C - Pelecypoda: The "bivalves." Two hinged lateral

shells and a wedged shaped "foot". Bivalves

lack tentacles and a head.


O - Anisomyaria: Mussels (Mytiloida), scallops

and oysters (Pterioda).

O - Heterodonta: Clams.

O - Adapedonta: Razor clams.

C - Gastropoda: usually have chambered shells. Ex.


O - Mesogastropoda: Largest order of

gastropoda. Periwinkle snails.

O - Archaeogastropoda: Limpet snails.

O - Stylommatophora: Land slugs.

O - Neogastropoda: Rock shell snails, whelk

snails, conch snails.

O - Anaspidea: Reduced or absent shell.

Ex. sea hares.

O - Pyramidellida: Tusk shell snails.

C - Seaphopoda: Tusk shaped shells open at both

ends. Mud or sand burrowing animals.

C - Cephalopoda: Animals have a head, prehensile

arms and beak-like jaw. Ex. octopus, squid,


P - Annelida (Latin - little ring): Segmented worms.


C - Polycheata: Marine bristle worms.

C - Oligocheata: Terrestrial bristle worms.


O - Lumbriculida: Earthworms.

C - Hirudinea: Leeches.


O - Gnathobdellida: Aquatic and terrestrial


C - Myzostomaria: Parasitic worms.


PHYLUM - Arthropoda (Greek - joint foot): Largest phylum.

Animals have segmented bodies and segmented

appendages, and external skeleton, undergoes

metamorphosis from a larval form to a sexually

mature adult. The phylum is separated into two

"subphyla;" Mandibulata - which are identified by

mandible mouth parts and 3 distinct body parts: and

Chelicerata - which have chelicerae mouth parts and

the first two body segments have fused to one.


SP - Mandibulata: Identified by mandible mouth parts and

3 distinct body parts.


C - Crustacea: Aquatic, gill breathing.


O - Cladocera: Water fleas.

O - Copepoda: Cyclops.

O - Cirripedia: Barnacles.

O - Decapoda: Lobster, crayfish, crab, shrimp

O - Amphipoda:

O - Isopoda: Marine and freshwater isopods, and

terrestrial pill bugs.

CLASS - Diplopoda: Millipedes.


O - Juliformia: 40 or more cylindrical

segments. Eyes.

O - Chordeumida: 28 to 60 rings. Eyes.

O - Colobognatha: 30 to 192 depressed rings.

Head and mouth parts small.

O - Polydesmida: Flat-backed. No eyes.

CLASS - Chilopoda: Centipedes.


O - Geophilomorpha: Slender, burrowing,

subterranean centipedes.

O - Scolopendromorpha: 21 or 23 pair of legs.

O - Lithobiomorpha:

O - Scutigeromorpha: Long legs and antennae.

Compound eyes. Found in dry, rocky areas.


C - Pauropoda: Similar to centipedes having branched

antennae and 9 or 10 pair of legs.

C - Symphyla: Similar to centipedes having 10 to 12

pair of legs.

C - Insecta: Animals having 3 pair of legs, 3 body

sections, generally 1 or 2 pair of wings, 1

pair of antennae. There are 25 orders of

insects. Here are 12 of the more common orders.


O - Protura: Small, eyeless, insects with

cone-shaped heads. Found in damp humus an


O - Thysanura: Fast running silverfish and


O - Thysanoptera: Thirps.

O - Isoptera: Termites.

O - Collembola: Springtails.

O - Ephemeroptera: Mayflies.

O - Trichoptera: Caddisflies.

O - Odonata: Dragonflies.

O - Orthoptera: Grasshoppers, roaches,


O - Hemiptera: True bugs.

O - Homoptera: Cicadas, aphids.

O - Lepidoptera: Butterflies, moths.

O - Diptera: True flies.

O - Hymenoptera: Ants, wasps, bees.

O - Coleoptera: Beetles.

O - Siphonoptera: Fleas.

SUBPHYLUM - Chelicerata: Chelicerae mouth parts and the first

two body segments have fused to one. 6 pairs of

appendages, first 2 pair different from the rest

(first pair are modified mouth parts, second pair

feeler like or claw like, remaining 4 pair



C - Pycnogonida: Sea spiders.

C - Merostomata: Horseshoe crabs.

C - Arachnida: Spiders, mites, ticks.


O - Araneae: Spiders.

O - Opiliones: Harvestmen, or daddy longlegs.

O - Acarina: Mites and ticks.

O - Pseudoscorpiones: Pseudoscorpions.

PHYLUM - Echinodermata (Greek - sea urchin skin): All are

marine animals, most are intertidal. Ex. starfish,

sea urchin, sand dollar, sea lilies, sea cucumbers.

PHYLUM - Chordata (Latin - cord): Animals having a single

dorsal nerve chord. The Phylum can be divided into 4



SP - Tunicata: Lack a brain. Ex. tunicates

SP - Cephalochordata: Lack a brain. Ex. lancelets

SP - Agnatha: Have a brain. Lack a jaw and pair


SP - Gnathostomata: Have a jaw. Have paired appendages.

Consists of 2 superclasses.


SC - Pisces: Fishes.


C - Chondrichthyes: Fish scales made of dentine and

enamel. Ex. sharks, skates, and rays

C - Osteichthyes: boney fishes.

SC - Tetrapoda: 4 limbed animals. There are 4 classes of



C - Amphibia: Lack scales. Respire through skin,

gills, lungs, or mouth linings. Eggs laid and

hatch in water.


O - Caudata: Salamanders.

O - Anura: Frogs an toads.

C - Reptilia: Dry scaley skin. Breath through lungs.

Eggs adapted to land.


O - Crocodilia: Alligators and crocodiles.

O - Testudines: Tortoises, and turtles.

O - Squamata: Lizards and snakes.

C - Aves: Birds/Feathered reptiles. Forelimbs adapted to

wings. There are 27 Orders of birds, below are

some of the most commonly seen.


O - Gaviiformes: Strong, straight bill. Pointed

wings. Legs far back on body. Webbed toes.

Ex. loons.

O - Podicipediformes: Short wings. Ex. grebes.

O - Procellariiformes: Tubular nostrils. Hooked

bill. Long narrow wings. Oily feathers.

Ex. albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels.

O - Pelecaniformes: 4 toes joined in a common

web. Ex. pelicans, boobies, cormorants.

O - Ciconiiformes: Long-legged waders (toes

unwebbed). Long neck. Ex. herons, egrets,

bitterns, storks, spoonbills, flamingos.

O - Anseriformes: Usually flat bill. Ex. ducks,

geese, swans.

O - Falconiformes: Diurnal birds of prey. Ex.

vultures, kites, hawks, eagles, osprey,


O - Galliformes: Short bill. Short wings.

Ex. grouse, ptarmigans, quails, turkeys.

O - Gruiformes: Marsh birds. Ex. cranes, rails


O - Charadriiformes: Shorebirds. Ex. gulls,

terns, jacanas, snipes, oystercatchers,

plovers, sandpipers, avocets.

O - Columbiformes: Pidgeon-like birds.

Ex. pigeons, doves, sand grouse

O - Strigiformes: Owls. Ex. owls (simple!).

O - Apodiformes: Long wings. Weak feet.

Ex. swifts, hummingbirds.

O - Coraciiformes: Typically large head. Large

bill. Ex. kingfishers, motmots,


O - Piciformes: Long strong well developed

bill. Ex. woodpeckers, jacamars,

honeyguides, toucans.

O - Passeriformes: Perching foot

characteristic. Referred to as "perching

birds" or "song birds." Ex. (wide ranging)

crows, larks, flycatchers, swallows,

chickadees, wrens, thrushes, warblers,

sparrows,, finches, etc.

C - Mammalia: Animals with hair, give birth to live

young, nourish young with milk. There are 20

orders of mammals, below are some of the most

commonly seen.


O - Chiroptera: Forelimbs modified for flight.

Ex. bats.

O - Insectivora: Typically small body size.

Small eyes. Elongate snout. Simple cheek

teeth. Pelage of one hair type. Ex. shrews

and moles.

O - Rodentia: Typically small body size. One

pair of upper and lower incisors.

Ex. mice, rats, chipmunks, squirrels,

marmots, porcupines.

O - Lagomorpha: Long ears. Indistinct or small

tail. Soles of feet covered with fur. Two

pair of upper incisors (second pair behind

the first pair. Ex. rabbits, hares, pikas.

O - Carnivora: Medium to large body size. Limbs

variable in structure. Claws. Large,

pointed, curved canine teeth. Ex. weasels,

mongooses, raccoons, cats, hyaenas, dogs,


O - Perissodactyla: Limbs similar. Hoofs. Odd

number of toes. Ex. horses, zebras,

tapirs, rhinoceroses.

O - Artiodactyla: Limbs similar. Hoofs. Even

number of toes. Ex. pigs, peccaries,

hippopotamuses, camels, deer, giraffes,

cattle, sheep, antelopes.

O - Primates: Opposable thumb. Finger nails.

Large brain case. Ex. lemurs, monkeys,

marmosets, apes, humans.