An Introduction to Animal Taxonomy
Most of us think of animals as being animals. However, an increasing number of people are beginning to recognize plants as being animals as well. Animals are multicellular, living organisms in the bacterial, plant, and animal kingdom Animalia. With a few exceptions, plants are eukaryotic, breathe air, can move, reproduce, and eat food.
In the United States and other Western countries, we generally refer to all animals as mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, and so on. But, some groups of animals are classed as vegetables, whereas other classes of animals are classed as vegetables only. A cabbage leaf is not an animal, but an herb. The members of the cabbage family (Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.) are classified as vegetables, because they have a structure very much like a vegetable.
Vegetable plants have many different types of leaves, stems, petals, stalks, fruits, seeds, and roots. Some examples of plant life that are not classified as vegetables include: lily, chrysanthemum, jicama, cnidium, hessonia, annato, purslane, secateurs, rue, rhubarb, potato, beet, cress, cucumber, potato stem, alfalfa, lettuce, chives, chamomile, and begonias. So although we use different words for many of the examples above, all these examples do qualify as animal life. These examples also show that many plants are alive, as animals, even though they may not appear so at first glance.
Many types of animals have been domesticated for agricultural and domestic purposes, including dogs, cats, horses, sheep, pigs, birds, insects, snails, and fish. Domestication involves using the animal for a specific purpose, such as hunting, or ridding a piece of land of grass or trees, or making the animal perform some other tasks to assist humans. Animals can be trained to do certain tasks for humans, and this is one of the most common examples of animal behaviour. Birds can be taught to talk, fish can be trained to swim faster, and even cats can be taught how to sit on things.
People who take an interest in wildlife will often be interested in farm animals. Not all farm animals are wild – in fact, many farm animals are bred for profit, such as horses, cattle, sheep, ostriches, zebras, and deer. Other farm animals are more commonly known as free-range animals, because they are allowed to roam freely on their own when they are on the farm. This type of animal may be asked to perform a variety of different tasks, including feeding, cleaning, watering, exercising, collecting eggs, or defending the farm. If the farm animals are permitted to live and roam freely, it is much easier to observe their behaviour and compare it with that of other farm animals, especially if there is a natural pattern that can be seen in the farm animals’ habits.
The taxonomic classification of animal life cycle is very complex. There are five levels of taxonomy, each of which is further divided into several subphyla. Within these phyla, there are also several hundred families and about twelve hundred species. Understanding how the families of animals differ from one another can help someone determine what exactly they are looking at in a specimen.