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The science of describing, naming, and classifying organisms

Binomial nomenclature

A system for giving each organism a two-word scientific name that consists of the genus name followed by the species name


The level of classification that comes after family and that contains similar species


The taxonomic category below the order and above the genus


The taxonomic category below class and above families


The taxonomic group below kingdom and above class


The second highest taxonomic category, which contains a group of similar phyla


Most inclusive taxonomic category; larger than a kingdom

Biological species

A group of organisms that can reproduce only among themselves and that are usually contained in a geographical area


The evolutionary history of a species or taxonomic group

Convergent evolution

the process by which unrelated species become more similar as they adapt to the same kind of environment

Analogous character

similarities that arise through convergent evolution


a phylogenetic classification system that uses shared derived characters and ancestry as the sole criterion for grouping taxa

Ancestral character

when a character is defined between two different groups if it evolved in a common ancestor of both groups

Derived character

evolved in an ancestor of one group but not of the other


a diagram that is based on patterns of shared, derived traits and that shows the evolutionary relationships between groups of organisms

Evolutionary systematics

taxonomists give varying degrees of importance to characters and thus produce a subjective analysis of evolutionary relationships

Phylogenetic tree

a branching diagram in which evolutionary relationships are displayed

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