Class (biology)

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The various levels of the scientific classification system.SpeciesGenusFamilyOrderClassPhylumKingdomDomainLife

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The hierarchy of biological classification's major eight taxonomic ranks. Intermediate minor rankings are not shown.

A class is the taxonomic rank in the scientific classification of organisms in biology below phylum and above order.

For example, Mammalia is the class used in the classification of dogs, whose phylum is Chordata (animals with notochords) and order is Carnivora (mammals that eat meat).

History of the concept

The class as a distinct of biological classification having its own distinctive name (and not just called a higher genus (genus summum)) was first introduced by a French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort in his classification of plants (appeared in his 1694 Eléments de botanique). Carolus Linnaeus was the first to apply it consistently to the division of all three kingdoms of Nature (minerals, plants, and animals) in his Systema Naturae (1735, 1st. Ed.). Since then class had been considered the highest level of the taxonomic hierarchy until the embranchements, now called phyla, and divisions were introduced in the nineteenth century.

See also

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