Articles on Taxonomy

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Scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly that people across the world are genetic refugees from Africa. Shutterstock

How science has been abused through the ages to promote racism

Despite science refuting the existence of different human races, people have used "race" throughout history to divide and denigrate certain people while promoting their claims of superiority.
New forms of life are discovered in high-tech ways that leave yesterday’s natural history collections in the dust. Detective image via

The modern, molecular hunt for the world’s biodiversity

Forget the pith helmet and butterfly net. Discovering biodiversity now is much more about metagenomics and the 0's and 1's of digital databases.
What do collections of dead butterflies do for their still-living counterparts? Andrew D Warren

Why we still collect butterflies

The dead animal specimens that comprise natural history collections contribute a lot toward scientific understanding of their still-living counterparts – and those that have gone extinct.
Tractors may have revolutionised farming but to protect biosecurity, farmers could do with some extra help. Ben McLeod/Flickr

Go with the grain: technology to help farmers protect crops

New technology to tackle biosecurity challenges down the track is one of the five megatrends identified in today’s CSIRO report Australia’s Biosecurity Future: preparing for future biological challenges…
No, it’s nothing to do with a reptilian existential crisis – just a name game. melanie cook/Flickr

There’s no such thing as reptiles any more – and here’s why

You have likely been to a zoo at some point and visited their reptile house. A building where the climate control dial is stuck on the “wet sauna” setting, and filled with maniacal children competing to…
Sorry guys, if you are smaller than 1 mm, you can’t be a species. Microbe World

How small is too small to qualify as a species?

Despite their small size, organisms smaller than thousandth of a metre (1 mm) contribute greatly to biodiversity and ecosystem function. Unfortunately, categorising small organisms, even defining those…
The lack of biological information about some species may be keeping them off the IUCN critically endangered list. Mariana Campbell

Protecting endangered species we don’t know much about

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) uses set criteria to define species extinction risk. At the pointy end of the wedge, species are classed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. Overall…
There are roughly 5 million species on earth. Most are insects. Roger Smith

We can name all of Earth’s species, but we may have to hurry

There has been enormous uncertainty amongst the scientific community on just how many species there are on Earth and how rapidly we are losing them through extinction. Given that taxonomists have described…
Taxonomists are in the business of classifying the life we see around us – plant, animal and otherwise. Gnilenkov Aleksey

Explainer: what is biological classification?

For taxonomists, days often start – and sometimes end – with the question: what’s that? Whether you’re an entomologist, staring at a new species of riffle bug from a rainforest stream, or a paleontologist…
DNA barcoding uses a few standard genes to provide a sure-fire genetic species identification method. Conor Lawless

Genetically linked, a continent apart: the rise of DNA barcoding

We’ve written previously on The Conversation about how taxonomy – the science of describing and naming species – can be quite a subjective science. But taxonomists can broadly be split into two camps…
It’s time for a change in the way we categorise life on Earth. ஆ ன ந் த ம் / a n a n d h a m

DNA barcoding: a better way to discover species

It might surprise you to learn that the idea of a “species” is one of the more ambiguous concepts in science. Originally, “species” (meaning “kind” or “sort” in Latin) was used to refer to organisms that…
What’s in a name? A whole lot of booty, and some Latin, as it happens. asterix611

Beyoncé is a fly … but why?

Late last week CSIRO announced that a new species of horse fly had been named after pop diva Beyoncé’s bottom. The story generated a real buzz across traditional and social media both in Australia and…

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