Taxonomy Timeline

Updated: 9/8/2021
Taxonomy Timeline

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  • Aristotle
  • Carolus Linnaeus
  • Charles Darwin
  • Aristotle, (384-322 B.C.) was one of the most well-known philosophers in history. In addition to his philosophical work, Aristotle was a major scientific influence and was the first to majorly explore the ideas for the classification of living organisms. Aristotle formed his system of classification based on a logical, standardized language for naming living organisms, based on characteristics including structural complexity, behavior, and degree of development at birth. Through this system, Aristotle's categories formed a hierarchical structure, increased in the specification, and created the same basic outline we use today to display the differentiation between living organisms.
  • Robert Whittaker
  • Carolus Linnaeus, (1707-1778) also known as Carl von Linne, was a Swedish Botinest who built off of Aristotle's foundation of classification over 2000 after the first major exploration of Taxonomy. Carolus Linnaeus created his system of classification by putting each organism in a series of hierarchically arranged categories, based on the emphasis of visual similarities and resemblance to other life-forms more than genetic makeup. Through this system of classification, Carolus Linnaeus laid the groundwork for the modern system of taxonomy classification.
  • Carl Woese
  • Charles Darwin, (1809-1882) was anCharles Darwin, (1809-1882) was an English biologist and publisher of the book On the Origin of Species a book that displayed the connection of all living things to ancestry and how it relates to Taxonomy. This publication was a major influence in the classification of species, and taxonomists started to recognize that taxonomic categories should change to appropriately reflect evolutionary patterns and the relatedness of organisms. In simple terms, the more overlap of categories two organisms share, the more closely they’re related. This system builds off of Carolus Linnaeus’s system of classification of putting more emphasis on visual similarities and resemblance to other life-forms and is a continuation we see used in taxonomy today.
  • Robert Whittaker, (1920-1980) was an American plant ecologist who played a critical role in the kingdom classification of living organisms. In 1969 Robert H. Wittaker proposed a new five-kingdom classification system as opposed to the previous two kingdom category classification that had been established in taxonomy before 1969. Before the 5 kingdom classification system adopted by taxonomists, all life forms were divided into two kingdoms: Animalia and Plantae. This meant that all bacteria, fungi, and photosynthetic protists were considered plants without further specification. Robert H. Wittaker’s system was important because it made a critical differentiation between plants fungi and other species that didn’t entirely fit into the Animalia or Plantae kingdoms.
  • Carl Woese (1928-2012) was an American microbiologist and biophysicist. Woese's research centered around the phylogeny of microorganisms, and the biochemistry of prokaryotic organisms. Through this research, Carl Woese, along with other biologists, determined that the Monera kingdom consisted of two different types of organisms, and therefore could not be categorized within the same group, leading to the creation of the Bacteria and Archaea groups.