Question Video: Determining the Taxonomic Ranks Represented by the Two Names Comprising the Binomial Name of an Organism Biology

The binomial naming system provides each organism with two names. For example, the binomial name for humans is Homo sapiens. a) In the binomial system, what taxonomic rank does the first name represent? b) In the binomial system, what taxonomic rank does the second name represent?

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Video Transcript

The binomial naming system provides each organism with two names. For example, the binomial name for humans is Homo sapiens. In the binomial system, what taxonomic rank does the first name represent? In the binomial system, what taxonomic rank does the second name represent?

Binomial is a word that actually means two names, and it’s the way that scientists name organisms. The first part of the name is more general, and the last part is more specific. It’s sort of how most people are given a family name, which tells us who they’re related to, and a given name, which sets them apart as an individual. However, in the instance of organisms, as with many cultures, the family name comes first and the more specific given name comes second.

Well, if you know which taxonomic rank is the very most specific and which one is the next most general, this would be enough information to answer our question with. But just in case you’d like another hint, we’ll go ahead and look at the taxonomic hierarchy for the human species. Humans belong to the animal kingdom. Our phylum is chordate, and our class is mammal. We are members of the primate order and the hominid family. Our genus is Homo, and our species is sapiens, or Homo sapiens. Now we have everything we need to answer our questions.

The first name in the binomial naming system, Homo, represents the genus. And the second name, sapiens, represents the species. If you remember that in binomial nomenclature, the general name comes first, that’ll help you to remember that the first name is actually the genus. And if you remember that the specific names come second, that’ll help you to remember that the second name is the species.

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