|MadSci Network: General Biology|
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 taxonomists. 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. Chris
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