Questions tagged [taxonomy]

Questions on the classification of biological organisms, and the methods used for classifying them.

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48
votes
7answers
9k views

Why isn't a virus “alive”?

The recent news about a new supermassive virus being discovered got me thinking about how we define viruses as non-living organisms whilst they are bigger than bacteria, and much more complex than we ...
38
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6answers
49k views

Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?

After my online research on the subject, I learnt that, biologically speaking, many scientists believe that there is no such thing as a race. Homo sapiens as a species is only 200,000 years old, which ...
29
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7answers
6k views

Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?

Layman here. So I have never really quite understood this facet of human evolution, (or any other for that matter), in that, I understand the evolutionary process, but I get lost on the 'border' cases....
18
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3answers
64k views

Why are turtles classified as reptiles and not amphibians?

I understand that turtles are reptiles because like all reptiles, they have scales on their body. But turtles (specifically sea turtles) live on both land and water, very much like amphibians. Also, ...
17
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4answers
4k views

Why do both the mango and the bee have “Indica” in their binomial name?

In my textbook, it is written that the binomial name of mango is Mangifera indica and the binomial name of a bee is Apis indica. Now in the name the second part is the name of species. But mango and ...
15
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3answers
13k views

When has an organism evolved enough to be called a new species?

Imagine that we take a population of horses, split them in half and place them in completely different environments. The two species will evolve separate from each other and because the environment is ...
15
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2answers
376 views

How to decide which is the correct scientific name for a particular species

To start with, I am not a person having sound knowledge in biology. When I started my search for phyto-chemicals in a particular family in the plant kingdom, I got confused. The scientific papers use ...
14
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4answers
1k views

Skull mystery on beach

The skull was found on a beach on the Sechelt inlet on Canada's pacific coast. A marine environment. What species is this skull from?
13
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1answer
166 views

To which distinctions does the term “hymenoptera” refer?

Hymenoptera is an order of insects that includes bees, ants, and wasps. A quick search gives the following etymological analysis of the term hymenoptera. hymen (membrane) + pteron (wing) Does the ...
12
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2answers
624 views

When writing about past research should I use the species name they employed or the modern version?

I am currently writing a literature review in which I am talking about the old research on the subject. When this research was carried out the species I'm talking about were classed under a different ...
12
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2answers
2k views

How is the concept of species defined in asexual organisms?

In asexual organisms such as bacteria, archea and some fungi, as well as in some plants where asexual reproduction is the only reproductive strategy, how can we be unambiguous in defining if an ...
12
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1answer
2k views

What is the scientific name of this plant?

I found this one on a hill here in Palestine. It's about 20 cm in height. Note that it does exist in this regions, but scantily.
12
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2answers
4k views

Why is Portuguese man o' war considered a colony?

The wikipedia entry on the Portuguese man o' war says: ... the Portuguese man o' war is ... not actually a single multicellular organism but a colonial organism made up of many highly specialized ...
11
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2answers
933 views

What insect is this? (India)

Can anyone tell me what kind of insect (if it is one) is this...!! Or is it the pupa of some insect? Well I don't think that the whole big thing is the insect itself, it appears to be just a kind of ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Species with reproduction barriers that can both reproduce with a third species

To start with, I do not have a sound knowledge in biology or any formal education in the area. I was told that one of the definition of a species is a reproductive barrier, which means that if two ...
11
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1answer
777 views

Dreadnoughtus: Why are new taxa named using Dog Latin?

Once upon a time, binomial nomenclature was expected to follow Latin rules: the genus had to be a noun and the species had to be an adjective that agreed with the genus according to Latin rules of ...
11
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3answers
1k views

Insect identification: white spotted beetle

3 pairs of legs, a pair of antenna, wings absent, compound eye, 4-6 centimeter approx. in size. I found this beetle at my door, in Pune, India.
11
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3answers
3k views

Are there any open plant databases (database/library/collection), containing species information and pictures?

I would like to download a plant database containing photos and species details. Do you know if there are any openly available online?
10
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5answers
11k views

How many (taxonomic) families are there?

Approximately, how many families have been identified? I've often often come across figures for the total number of species on Earth. Recently, I found myself wondering about the encompassing ranks ...
10
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1answer
774 views

Can scientists name themselves in the scientific name when they discover a new taxon?

There are sometimes people names in taxonomy, like Myotis keenii was names after Mr. Keen who contributed to discover the species. So, if you discover a species and someone else is constructing the ...
10
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2answers
6k views

Why animals can move and plants cannot in general?

To clarify, I think the answer should be able to explain: What are animals? What are plants? What's the difference between animals and plants (How do biologists differentiate them, if they ...
10
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2answers
209 views

Acknowledging differentiation of species, in historical times

This is at least partly an historical question, and I am not even remotely a biologist of any sort, so apologies beforehand if it's a little obscure. I often wonder how many distinctions were made in ...
10
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1answer
853 views

Is sexual reproduction outside the same biological family possible? Has it ever occured successfully?

Are there any examples of two species taxonomically classified in different biological families that have successfully hybridized and produced viable offspring? If not, is there an example of where ...
10
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1answer
3k views

What is a subspecies?

Within a species there may be subspecies that are named using trinomial nomenclautre. For example the Grizzly Bear, Ursus arctos horribilis is a subspecies of the Brown Bear Ursus arctos. The ...
10
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1answer
11k views

Does the use of “var”, “x”, and/or “ssp” in a scientific name provide specific information?

What exactly does it mean when a plant has a scientific name that specifies a vairety, for example Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides, or when the name includes an "x", as in Populus ...
10
votes
1answer
218 views

Is it correct to regard archeaic humans (i.e.n Neanderthals and Denisovans) as distinct species to Homo sapiens?

There is increasing evidence (e.g. here) that Homo sapiens interbred with contemporary homonins such as Homo neanderthalensis and the "Denisovans". Although these homonins do show differences in their ...
9
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2answers
815 views

Goats are so fearless but sheep are not. Is there any genetic difference responsible?

As you see in the picture goats (not only wild goats) are so fearless, but I never saw any sheep do this. What is the source of this difference in behavior?
9
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1answer
2k views

Regarding the kingdom Animalia, which phylogenic tree is more common: Molecular Comparisons or Body-Plan Grades

In the picture below, which I obviously do not own: it depicts two different phylogenic trees, one which is based on molecular comparisons and another one which is based on body-plan grades. My ...
9
votes
1answer
713 views

What instances are there in which two species share the same binomial name?

Since binomials are required to be unique only within a kingdom, two species can share the same binomial name if they are in different kingdoms. I know of one instance of this, Orestias elegans: this ...
9
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5answers
5k views

Is there a downloadable list of all species along with their traditional classification?

I'm looking for a downloadable list of all known (or better said, online documented) species in this straightforward format, as an example the European Frog: Kingdom: Animalia Division: Chordata ...
9
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1answer
188 views

How do you call “pocoya” bird in English?

I am translating a Spanish book and I have here a bird named in Spanish "pocoya", about which I know the following: 1) it flies at night 2) it makes sounds that allow to confuse it with an injured ...
8
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2answers
5k views

How many species did Carl Linnaeus classify?

How many species did Carl Linnaeus (senior) classify?
8
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1answer
2k views

What is the scientific name of this evergreen plant?

This plant is found in India. It is an evergreen plant. Would love to know the scientific name.
8
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1answer
186 views

How to determine whether a newly discovered dinosaur is not a young one and not an entirely different species?

Every once in a while, there is an official announce that a new species has been discovered. For example, paleontologists have recently discovered a dinosaur they named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, which ...
8
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2answers
216 views

How do we know that ammonites are a kind of cephalopod rather than another type of mollusc?

On a recent fossil hunting trip, I found a small fossil that an expert identified for me as an ammonite beak. He told me such fossils are not uncommon, but are not normally found with their parent ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Number of families in Animal kingdom

I found this question about how many taxonomic families there are. That made me wonder how many are just in the animal kingdom alone. I want to know about families not species. Now the linked question ...
7
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1answer
289 views

Bird identification: Warora, India

These photographs have been taken in Warora, India. Could someone please help identify this bird?
7
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2answers
1k views

Which phylum appeared most recently

I'm aware that our earliest records of many major animal and plant phyla come from the Cambrian or Precambrian periods, and I'm also vaguely aware of some of the objections raised with general concept ...
7
votes
1answer
27k views

What is the proper format for genus and species names in latin?

When using the latin nomenclature for a fish in printed materials (such as Sander vitreus for walleye), what is the correct capitalization of each word? In this example, should 'S' be uppercase only,...
7
votes
1answer
173 views

Could someone recommend a book for surveying species?

I'm trying to get/renew basic knowledge of species. Could someone recommend a book for surveying "important"/"representational" species? I am looking for a book with good illustrations and that covers ...
6
votes
2answers
456 views

Which species were first described by Charles Darwin?

There are many plants and animals named for the naturalist Charles Darwin, such as Darwin's Frog (Rhinoderma darwinii), but which were named by him? I'm finding it difficult to find such a list.
6
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2answers
6k views

Why is a slow worm not considered a snake?

Slow worms are considered lizards as opposed to snakes, both are reptiles. Now I get that there are traits that distinguish them (eye lids, ears ...). But snake species themselves vary already quite a ...
6
votes
2answers
199 views

Did Carl Linnaeus ever name a species he never saw?

According to this post Carl Linnaeus named more than 13,000 species which is definitely quite impressive. If we consider a 50 years career it makes about 5 species per week! It would feel impressive ...
6
votes
1answer
667 views

If life is discovered on another planet, will it likely be classified using the current domain/kingdom/phylum system?

This may be a stupid question showing my lack of understanding of taxonomy, but I was wondering if the current classification system we use contains broad enough categories to include new life forms, ...
6
votes
1answer
146 views

On which date did the official name change of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis change?

When did the change of official name from Lactobacillus sanfrancisco to Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis happen? An answer ((to the exact day OR within a few days) AND the name of the conference at ...
6
votes
2answers
117 views

Why was the cackling goose split off as a distinct species from the Canada goose in 2004?

According to Wikipedia, in 2004 the American Ornithologists' Union made the cackling goose a new species, splitting it away from the Canada goose. The British followed suit in 2005. What was the ...
6
votes
1answer
67 views

What does it mean to have square brackets around a genus name?

For example [Eubacterium] rectale
6
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2answers
3k views

Why are there “Old World” and “New World” families?

I've been reading on biological classification of the animal kingdom and have come across the New World and Old World terms a few times when they are applied to ranks (family, as much as I could find)....
6
votes
3answers
4k views

Polymorphism in cnidarians?

To me, the phenomenon of polymorphism in cnidarians is particularly troubling. I gather that it essentially refers to existence of various different forms or kinds of individuals, i.e. zooids and ...
6
votes
1answer
148 views

Help me identify species of fruit fly?

I found this fruit fly in Pune/India. It was about 1 cm in size. I explored info on several species in same region, but they were different in appearance, especially that black spot in middle of body.