Taxonomy structures

The number of marine animals that are described is staggering. The complexing of classifing this staggering number of species is equally daunting. What we would like to help you understand is the basic structure of the taxonomic ranks. The term used when discussing these ranks are simply “Taxon”. Here is a complete list of taxonomic ranks include, in order from highest to lowest rank:

Domain/Superkingdom, Kingdom, Subkingdom, Infrakingdom/Branch, Superphylum/Superdivision, Phylum/Division, Subphylum, Infraphylum, Microphylum, Superclass, Class, Subclass, Infraclass, Parvclass, Magnorder, Superorder, Order, Suborder, Infraorder, Parvorder, Superfamily, Family, Subfamily, Supertribe, Tribe, Subtribe, Genus, Subgenus, Section, Series, Superspecies, Species, Subspecies, InfraSpecies, Variety, Form. nnWhile the list is exhastive, you only really need to know the more common ranks:

  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Tribe (commonly used with sea slugs)
  • Genus
  • Species

Let’s take a closer look at the top taxonomic ranks.

  • Kingdom has 6 categories, but we will focus on only one: Animalia, meaning Animals.
  • Phylum has 6 groups that are common, in terms of Marine life:
    • Annelida, meaning “little ring” and is distinguished by “Multiple circular segment”. While this phylum refers to more than 17.000 species, the most common species we know are the fireworms.
    • Arthropoda, meaning “Jointed foot” and is distinguished by “Segmented bodies and jointed limbs”. Anthropods are mostly known for their Subphylum Crustacea or Crustaceans.
    • Chordata, meaning “With a cord” and is distinguished by “Hollow dorsal nerve cord, notochord, pharyngeal slits, endostyle, post-anal tail”. This is the most common phylum and includes fish, sharks, rays and many other families.
    • Cnidaria, meaning “Stinging nettle” and is distinguished by “Nematocysts (stinging cells)”. This is a diverse phylum that contains Jellyfish, Corals, Sea anemones, even a few parasites.
    • Mollusca, meaning “Soft” and is distinguished by “Muscular foot and mantle round shell”. Some common families include Octopus, Cuttlefish, Nudibranchs, Sea hares, Clams, and Oysters.
    • Porifera, meaning “Pore bearer” and is distinguished by “Perforated interior wall”. This phylum represents all of the sea sponges.

We limit this to the phylum for now, but as you can imagine, if we were to continue, the list will grow exponentially. We will consider added Classes and possibly Orders with future updates.