Classification of living organisms


    • Traditionally living things have been classified into groups depending on their structure and characteristics in a system developed by Carl Linnaeus.

Linnaeus classified living things into kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. Organisms are named by the binomial system of genus and species.

Students should be able to use information given to show understanding of the Linnaean system.

Students should be able to describe the impact of developments in biology on classification systems.

As evidence of internal structures became more developed due to improvements in microscopes, and the understanding of biochemical processes progressed, new models of classification were proposed.

Due to evidence available from chemical analysis there is now a ‘three- domain system’ developed by Carl Woese. In this system organisms are divided into:

  • archaea (primitive bacteria usually living in extreme environments)
  • bacteria (true bacteria)
  • eukaryota (which includes protists, fungi, plants and animals).
    • Evolutionary trees are a method used by scientists to show how they believe organisms are related. They use current classification data for living organisms and fossil data for extinct organisms.

Give examples to show how scientific methods and theories have changed over time. Explain, with an example, why new data from experiments or observations led to changes in models or theories. Decide whether or not given data supports a particular theory. ,

Recognise/draw/interpret diagrams. Translate from data to a representation with a model. Use models in explanations, or match features of a model to the data from experiments or observations that the model describes or explains. Make predictions or calculate quantities based on the model or show its limitations. Give examples of ways in which a model can be tested by observation or experiment.