How to Sort Plants & Animals
- 1). Identify the kingdom to which a species belongs: Animalia for animals including sponges, worms and insects; Plantae for plants including mosses; Fungi for molds, fungi, mushrooms and mildew; Protista for algae and protozoan life; and Monera for bacteria and some types of algae.
- 2). Determine the phylum of the plant or animal. These are more specific characteristics that pertain to such things as body style and reproductive capability. There are 33 phyla classifications for animals. Within each are animals that exhibit similar qualities, such as the bilateral symmetry and head-and-tail layout of the Chordata phylum, to which creatures as diverse as humans and seahorses belong.
- 3). Add a subphylum next to further differentiate the plant or animal. For example, vertebrata distinguishes mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and fish from the invertebrate subphylum, which includes crabs, insects, sea stars and earthworms.
- 4). Categorize the plant or animal according to its class. In the vertabrate subphylum, this breaks down further into Agnatha, Chondrichthyes, Osteichthyes, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves and Mammalia. For plants, class differentiates the flowering Angiosperms from the non-blooming Gymnospermae.
- 5). Finish with the plant or animal's subclass and infraclass. Mammals of the Prototheria subclass lay eggs and don't have nipples, for example, and members of the Theria class give live birth rather than laying eggs. Infraclasses include pouched marsupials of the Metatheria class and the Eutheria class of placental mammals such as dogs or humans.
- 6). Ensure that the plant or animal doesn't belong to a superorder, subfamily or tribe. This could be the case with dog breeds or greenhouse plants that have been tinkered with for centuries to produce different varieties and colors. The Angiosperm lesser spearwort, for example, belongs to a superorder commonly known as magnolia but also belongs to the buttercup family and the ranunculus subspecies.