In biology, taxonomy
is the science of naming
and hierarchically grouping
organisms according to their proven or presumed relationships.
The system was developed by the Swedish scientist Linnaeus
in the 18th century, and is based on two main features:
Any organism's scientific name is a combination of two terms - the genus and the
Both terms are italicised and the genus name is also capitalised (e.g. Orcinus orca).
Species are ordered hierarchically into a series of categories and subcategories, which become more and
more specific as the species level is approached.
The 7 major categories are:
Whales, dolphins and porpoises, collectively called cetaceans, belong to the Cetacea order.
For cetaceans, an extra category called suborder (placed between order and family) comes into play so that a distinction
can be made between toothed and baleen species - i.e. Odontoceti and Mysticeti.
A third suborder called Archaeoceti comprises a group of extinct animals, which is not included in
our Taxonomy Browser below.