Taxonomy is the classifying of living organisms (ie. plants and animals) into scientifically-named groups based on similarities of structure, origin etc. Here's a new mnemonic sentence by Peter Hobbs to recall the universal order of classifications pioneered by the 18th Century Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus:

King Philip's Classic Order: "Family Genius - Special Value".

(Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, Variety)

In the "King Philip" mnemonic, the "family genius" can be imagined as Philip of Macedonia's famous son Alexander The Great. While zoologists use "philum" however, botanists use the substitute term "division". Budding botanists should therefore substitute King David (Division) for King Philip (Philum), as David also had a famous and clever son Solomon!

A short form for botanists without the (obvious) kingdom reference is sometimes quoted among mnemonic sources as:

David Come Out For God's Sake".
Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species)


Taxonomically, most living things are referred to in textbooks by only a combination of genus and species. The species of Man for example is called "homo sapiens" (earthling, wise) because of full classification in Latin as:
(K) Animalia, (P) Vertibrata, (Sub-P) Chordata, (C) Mammalia, (Sub-C) Eutheria, (O) Primate, (Sub-O) Haplorhini, (F) Hominidae, (G) Homo, (S) Sapiens, (V) --.

The "L" quoted in many scientific names, eg. blah blah (L.), denotes Linnaeus rather than Latin, and is contained in/outside brackets according to whether or not Linnaeus himself classified the particular example.

Alternative and well-established mnenonics for the classifications include:

"Krakotoa Positively Casts Off Fumes Generating Sulpherous Vapours"

"Kindly Place Cover On Fresh Green Spring Vegetables."

Aaron Miller has e-mailed (10/99) a further variation:
"Keep Pots Clean Or Family Gets Sick..."

Barbara D. Marin sent this alternative (9/00):
"Kirby Picks Crude Objects From Gooey Snouts."

Mary Persson of Williston, ND (USA) sent an interesting version (11/05) that she uses in teaching her students:
"We went to Kentucky (Ph)Fried Chicken and Ordered the Family Group Special."

(KEY: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, Variety)

A separate page has a mnemonic recalling the five Classes of Vertibrates within the animal kingdom.


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