The Manduca Project

 

 

The insect "family tree"

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Portrait of Carl LinnéWith so many insects to account for, it's not surprising that the insects' "family tree" or phylogeny can get pretty complicated. To understand the insect family tree, you need to have an idea how living things are classified and named. A taxonomy–a scientific classification of organisms–is an important and useful tool. There are several ways to classify living things. One of the oldest and simplest taxonomies was developed in the 1730's by Swedish scientist Carl Linnš, later renamed Carolus Linnaeus.

The Linnaean System

Linnaeus developed his taxonomy of living things "from the bottom up". He started by grouping individual species of plants with similar characteristics into a group called a genus. Then, he grouped similar genera (plural of genus) into families, similar families into orders and so on, until all plants were joined into one huge group, the Plant Kingdom. Later, Linnaeus repeated this process for the animal kingdom.

 

 

 

Linnaeus used binomial (two-part) Latin names in his taxonomy, combining the genus (capitalized) and the species (not capitalized) names, usually written in italics: Manduca sexta. We still use this binomial system today. Here is the Linnaean classification of the tobacco hornworm: Latin was the universal language of science in Linnaeus' day. Scientists still use Latin because if follows a strict set of grammatical rules and is not used today by any culture, eliminating any appearance of playing " cultural favorites".

Linnaeus' Scheme:

From the most general level to the most specific

Classification Name Description
Kingdom Animalia all animals
Phylum Arthropoda exoskeletons and jointed legs
Class Insecta

insects - 6 legs,
insects blody plan

Order Lepidoptera butterflies, moths, skippers
Family Sphingidae hawk moths
Genus Manduca  
Species Manduca sexta
(Manny's Full Name)
the tobacco hornworm

To begin with, Manducas are arthropods – a large group that includes such animals as lobsters, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, and millipedes, in addition to insects. All arthropods have hard exoskeletons (skeletons on the outside) and jointed legs, traits that distinguish them from all other animals.

World of Insects

Life without | So many of them | Secrets of their success | Family Tree | Insect orders | Anatomy


The Manduca Project
The University of Arizona
Revised: July 27, 2001


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