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Classify the species of plants and animals.

What does a Taxonomist do?

Do you remember the science lesson in middle school where you learned about the different classifications for animals? You know, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species? Most of us learned it and promptly forgot it again. But if you’re still throwing around terms like “homo sapien” instead of the more common term “human,” then a career in taxonomy might be for you.

A Taxonomist’s entire job revolves around the classification of plants and animals. This is not a new field of science, but with modern discoveries, the field has changed from what it once was. Originally, “kingdom” covered every plant and animal known to man. But, as more was learned and recorded, more subcategories were needed.

Initially, Scientists could only use the physical traits and habits of animals to classify them. But now, you can also use DNA. With this technology, you can look at the animal (or plant) from the inside out, learn about its history, and move it into the proper class, order, or family.

As a Taxonomist, you work with newly discovered organisms, but you also work to reclassify the ones that were formerly misunderstood. For example, the koala bear was originally thought to be part of the bear family because of its physical appearance. Upon further investigation, however, Taxonomists reclassified it as a marsupial (cousin to the kangaroo).

With your help, science will uncover more about these plants and animals as we pass the genetic book down to the next generation.