Kingdom (biology)

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In biology, kingdom (Latin: regnum, pl. regna) is a taxonomic rank, which is either the highest rank or in the more recent three-domain system, the rank below domain. Kingdoms are divided into smaller groups called phyla (in zoology) or divisions in botany. The complete sequence of ranks is life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.

Currently, textbooks from the United States use a system of six kingdoms (Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, Archaea, Bacteria) while British, Australian and Latin American textbooks may describe five kingdoms (Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, and Prokaryota or Monera).

Historically, the number of kingdoms in widely accepted classifications has grown from two to six. However, phylogenetic research from about 2000 onwards does not support any of the traditional systems.

Contents

Two kingdoms

The classification of living things into animals and plants is an ancient one. Aristotle (384 BC–322 BC) classified animal species in his work the History of Animals, and his pupil Theophrastus (c. 371–c. 287 BC) wrote a parallel work on plants (the History of Plants).[1]

Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778) laid the foundations for modern biological nomenclature, now regulated by the Nomenclature Codes. He distinguished two kingdoms of living things: Regnum Animale ('animal kingdom') for animals and Regnum Vegetabile ('vegetable kingdom') for plants. (Linnaeus also included minerals, placing them in a third kingdom, Regnum Lapideum.) Linnaeus divided each kingdom into classes, later grouped into phyla for animals and divisions for plants.

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