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Biodiversity : The Variety of Life on Earth Index

Biodiversity
How Biologists Classify Species : Similarities and Differences
Putting Things into Groups

Topic Chapters Index

 

An impala in Kenya © Shirley Burchill

 

 

BIODIVERSITY : THE VARIETY OF LIFE ON EARTH

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Collecting, Describing, and Classifying

Biologists spend a lot of time putting newly discovered species into specific groups. This is important for two reasons:

 

- Firstly, the millions of species which live on Earth can be studied more easily if they are ordered in some way.

 

- Secondly, in grouping similar organisms together, biologists can begin to understand their family tree. Two animals which look similar are probably closely related. The animals in the photos live in very different parts of the world. The climate and the food available in each region are different, yet these two animals look physically alike. If a biologist examined the skulls of the antelope and the deer, she would probably find many similarities. These two animals are closely related but they are different enough to put them into separate species.

 

A deer in France  © Shirley Burchill

 

Putting things in groups is called classification. Biologists classify the living organisms on Earth according to their characteristics, such as an organism's body structure, its method of reproduction or even how it develops.

 

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