Here's a "farmyard" mnemonic that recalls the five classes of vertibrates (or higher Chordates) in the animal kingdom, suggested (02/01) by Rebecca Probasco of Kettering, Ohio.


Fish - Amphibians - Reptiles - Mammals - Birds

The mnemonic also gives a reminder of which classes are cold- and warm-blooded, as all the first 3 are cold-blooded while only the last 2 are warm-blooded (ie. have a constant body temperature).

Taxonomy is the classifying of living organisms (ie. plants and animals) into scientifically-named groups based on similarities of structure, origin etc. Animals for example can be single-celled (ie. microscopic) or multi-cellular. Among the latter, the vertibrates are regarded as the highest form of animals. All vertibrates have a true backbone.

Fish form the largest class of vertibrates. They are all water-living, gill-breathing animals and are subdivided into three classes (the Lampreys, the 600 species of Cartilaginous sharks and rays, and the remaining 20,000 species of Bony Fishes).

Amphibians are the most primitive of the land vertibrates, with about 1,100 species. All are cold-blodded and have to pass through a fish-like larval stage before metamorphosing into their adult form. Many breathe largely through their skin, which must therefore be kept moist. They are subdivided into three groups (the lizard-like Tailed Forms, the Tailless Forms being frogs and toads, and the Blindworms).

Reptiles are also cold-blooded vertibrates, but usually covered in horny scales and reproducing by means of shelled eggs. Their 4,300 species are subdivided into four groups (the Crocodile order including alligators, the rare Tuataras, the Turtles which include tortoises, and the Snakes and Lizards).

Mammals are warm-blooded vertibrates, of which the females give milk to their young. The 3,500 species of mammal are subdivided into three groups (the Egg-laying Mammals of Australasia, the pouched Marsupials such as the kangaroo, and the Placentals - this last being largest group with 16 orders including the Bats, the Whales, the Carnivores, the Insectivores, the Rabbits, the Rodents such as squirrels, mice and porcupines, the Elephants, the Odd-Toed Hoofed Animals such as horses, the Even-Toed or Cloven-Hoofed Animals such as camels and pigs, and the Primates such as apes and humans. Over half of the world's species of mammal are Rodents).

Birds are warm-blooded vertibrates with front limbs modified to form wings (although some are flightless). All 8,600 species are feathered, toothless and egg-laying. They are subdivided into 20 orders (including the Flightless Birds, the Penguins, the Swans, Ducks and Geese, the Birds of Prey, the Parrots, the Divers, the Gulls and Waders, the Owls and the Perching Birds).

A separate page has a mnemonic means of recalling the various taxonomic classifications in general.


Mnemonics Guide   Page ©2001   An EUdesign site