We explain what taxonomy is, what are the levels of organization that it uses and the objectives that this science raises.

In biology, taxonomy deals with the classification of living organisms.

What is Taxonomy?

It is understood by taxonomy to science of the classification: its name comes from the Greek wordstaxis ("Ordering") andnomos ("Norm, to know").

It is generally considered a branch of biological sciences (specifically Systematic Biology) that deals with the classification of living organisms that are known to date.

To do this, it uses the concepts of taxon and phylogenetic tree:

  • Taxon A taxon is a level of organization of the living creatures, a group of living beings endowed with circumscription, position and rank within the evolutionary history of life. By this is meant:
    • District. It organisms within a taxon they are clearly differentiated from those belonging to another, based on a list of diagnostic characters or properties unique to the group.
    • Rank. Within the same taxon, living beings emerged at different times in the weather, and that particular story of their origin supposes that some appeared first than others, forming a kind of family.
    • Position. Taxa differ from each other and also present a hierarchical history of their origin, so that in turn living beings of the same taxon occupy a certain place in the general history of life.
  • Phylogenetic tree. The phylogenetic tree is a way of illustrating the way in which life evolved from its origins until today, using a kind of family tree whose branches represent the different evolutionary paths that a species takes to become two or more different, completely new. This way of representing life allows us to classify beings based on their participation in that evolutionary history.

The point of taxonomy is, then, that there are different ways of understanding this history of the origin of species, and based on each version, it is possible to build a different category and classification model.

Thus, in different phylogenetic trees, the branches can be occupied by very different evolutionary groups, depending on what characteristics are chosen to distinguish between one or the other living beings.

Purpose of the taxonomy

Seen this way, taxonomy is a discipline that pursues the most probable history of the origin of life and the process of transformations that resulted in the appearance of the Humans and of the animals contemporaries we know well.

In addition, the history of taxonomy, one of the specific branches of this discipline, allows us to know the way in which human beings have chosen to classify living beings, in order not only not to make mistakes already made or to rescue knowledge discarded at the time but necessary, but also to understand more deeply the cultural way in which we think about life and we think of the world around us.

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