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class (biology)

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class (biology)
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{{Other uses|Class (disambiguation)}}{{hatnote|This page is about the taxonomic grouping of related organisms; it should not be confused with the ecological grouping of unrelated plant taxa in phytosociology.}}{{Biological classification}}In biological classification, class () is a taxonomic rank, as well as a taxonomic unit, a taxon, in that rank.{{efn|When the term denotes taxonomic units, the plural is classes (Latin classes).}} Other well-known ranks in descending order of size are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, order, family, genus, and species, with class fitting between phylum and order.

Definition

The class as a distinct rank of biological classification having its own distinctive name (and not just called a top-level genus (genus summum)) was first introduced by the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort in his classification of plants that appeared in his Eléments de botanique, 1694.Insofar as a general definition of a class is available, it has historically been conceived as embracing taxa that combine a distinct grade of organization -- i.e. a 'level of complexity', measured in terms of how differentiated their organ systems are into distinct regions or sub-organs -- with a distinct type of construction, which is to say a particular layout of organ systems.BOOK, Huxley, Thomas Henry, Thomas Huxley, Henfrey, Arthur, Scientific memoirs, selected from the transactions of foreign academies of science, and from foreign journals. Natural history, 1853, Taylor and Francis, 10.5962/bhl.title.28029,weblink This said,the composition of each class is ultimately determined by the subjective judgement of taxonomists. Often there is no exact agreement, with different taxonomists taking different positions. There are no objective rules for describing a class, but for well-known animals there is likely to be consensus. In the first edition of his Systema Naturae (1735).Mayr E. (1982). The Growth of Biological Thought. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. {{ISBN|0-674-36446-5}} Carl Linnaeus divided all three of his kingdoms of Nature (minerals, plants, and animals) into classes. Only in the animal kingdom are Linnaeus's classes similar to the classes used today; his classes and orders of plants were never intended to represent natural groups, but rather to provide a convenient "artificial key" according to his Systema Sexuale, largely based on the arrangement of flowers. In botany, classes are now rarely discussed. Since the first publication of the APG system in 1998, which proposed a taxonomy of the flowering plants up to the level of orders, many sources have preferred to treat ranks higher than orders as informal clades. Where formal ranks have been assigned, the ranks have been reduced to a very much lower level, e.g. class Equisitopsida for the land plants, with the major divisions within the class assigned to subclasses and superorders.{{Citation |last=Chase |first=Mark W. |last2=Reveal |first2=James L. |year=2009 |title=A phylogenetic classification of the land plants to accompany APG III |journal=Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society |volume=161 |issue=2 |pages=122–127 |doi=10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.01002.x |lastauthoramp=yes }}The class was considered the highest level of the taxonomic hierarchy until George Cuvier's embranchements, first called Phyla by Ernst Haeckel,Collins, A.G., Valentine, J.W. (2001). "Defining phyla: evolutionary pathways to metazoan body plans." Evol. Dev. 3: 432-442. were introduced in the early nineteenth century.

Hierarchy of ranks below and above the level of class

As for the other principal ranks, Classes can be grouped and subdivided. Here are some examples.{{efn|Not all ranks are used in every taxon}}{| class="wikitable"! Name !! Meaning of prefix !! Example 1 !! Example 2 !! Example 3Classification according to Systema Naturae 2000, which conflicts with Wikipedia's classification. WEB,weblink The Taxonomicon: Neornithes, 3 December 2010, !! Example 4
super): above Tetrapoda Tetrapoda
Mammalia >Maxillopoda >Aves >| Diplopoda
sub): under Theria Thecostraca Chilognatha
infra): below Cirripedia Neognathae Helminthomorpha
subter): below, underneath Colobognatha
parvus): small, unimportant Neornithes {{center|-}}

See also

Notes

{{notelist}}

References

{{reflist}}{{Taxonomic ranks}}{{Authority control}}

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