MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: What types of information do scientists use to classify organisms

Date: Mon Sep 21 09:53:37 1998
Posted By: Chris Yost, PhD Microbiology
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 905893890.Gb

Hi Naomi,

You ask a very good question.  Classification of 
organisms is a very interesting and important 
branch of science.  To classify an organism 
scientists examine the characteristics of the 
organisms and compare and contrast these 
characteristics to other organisms.  Scientists 
who perform such research are called 

If two organisms have many characteristics in 
common then they are thought to be closely 
related.  What types of characteristics do 
scientists use?  A common characteristic used 
is morphology.  Morphology is a word 
used to describe the structure and function of 
an organism.  For example, a dog has 4 legs, a 
cat has four legs while a human has 2 legs, 
based on this morphology the dog and cat are 
more closely related to each other than they are 
to a human.

Advances in the technology of science have 
enabled taxonomists to use molecular methods 
for classification.  Using these methods 
scientists can compare the DNA of different 
organisms.  The degree of similarity in DNA 
between the organisms is proportional to the 
organisms relatedness.

I hope this helps to answer your question. 


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