Question Video: Ordering the Taxonomic Levels by Size

From largest to smallest, which of the following is the correct order of the taxonomic levels? [A] Kingdom ⟶ phylum ⟶ class ⟶ order ⟶ family ⟶ species ⟶ genus [B] Kingdom ⟶ phylum ⟶ class ⟶ order ⟶ family ⟶ genus ⟶ species [C] Kingdom ⟶ phylum ⟶ order ⟶ class ⟶ genus ⟶ family ⟶ species [D] Phylum ⟶ kingdom ⟶ class ⟶ order ⟶ family ⟶ genus ⟶ species [E] Species ⟶ kingdom ⟶ phylum ⟶ class ⟶ order ⟶ family ⟶ genus

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Video Transcript

From largest to smallest, which of the following is the correct order of the taxonomic levels?

Taxonomy is a system of hierarchical classification. Biologists use taxonomy to identify and classify organisms based on their genetic and evolutionary relationships. This question is asking us to choose the answer where the taxonomic levels are listed in the correct order from the largest or the most general to the smallest or the most specific.

This chart represents the taxonomic levels. We can see that kingdom is the largest group, then phylum, then class, then order, then family, then genus. And finally, species is the smallest or the most specific group. Let’s illustrate this concept with an example. We’ll review the taxonomic classification for our own species, humans or Homo sapiens. The scientific name for the human species is Homo sapiens, a term that means man the wise. Homo is our genus, and sapiens is our species. Modern humans are the only remaining species within the genus Homo. All the others have become extinct.

Our genus Homo is a part of the Hominid family. This group includes humans along with great apes. Our order is Primate. The order is a more general classification than the family. The Primate order includes not only humans and great apes, but also monkeys and some other types of organisms like lemurs. Our class is Mammal. These are animals that are warm blooded, give birth to live young, and produce milk to feed their offspring. Our phylum is Cordate. This group includes all animals that possess a spinal cord. Humans belong to the Animal kingdom. A kingdom is a very broad general group. The Animal kingdom includes basically any organism that’s motile, multicellular, heterotrophic, and has the ability to reproduce sexually.

The classification of the human species is a great example of taxonomy, but how will we remember the order of the taxonomic levels? The most common solution is to use a mnemonic device. Here’s one you may have seen before: King Philip Came Over For Good Soup. It’s a phrase that’s easy to remember, and the first letter of each word represents one of the taxonomic levels. But you can use any phrase that follows this pattern and is easy for you to remember. Another one I particularly like is King Penguins Congregate On Frozen Ground Sometimes. Or Kids Pick Candy Over Fancy Green Salad.

Using our knowledge of taxonomic levels and our handy mnemonic device, we see that the choice that shows the correct order of the taxonomic level from largest to smallest is kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

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