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Name: mike
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Age: N/A
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Date: Around 1993

What is the most accurate way to classify animals in taxonomy?

If by "most accurate", you mean the way that best approximates classifying animals according to their genetic relatedness, and historical ties, then the best way is called "cladistics." Cladistics is a method that is used to split a group of animals (or any living thing) into two groups. The process is completed until there are only two animals left, and they are split. The criteria they use to split groups is based on "synapomorphies" a 50-cent word which means a SHARED and DERIVED CHARACTER. A CHARACTER is a measure of an organism, like its color, or structure, or size. A DERIVED character is one that is newly evolved. For instance, if you had a group of 5 fish, and 2 monkeys, you would guess (based on previous work) that the two monkeys belong in one group, and the 5 fish in the other (and you would be right). This is because the 2 monkeys SHARE many DERIVED CHARACTERS that the fish do not share with the monkeys. One such derived character is the presence of legs. Fossil evidence shows that vertebrate legs are newly evolved with respect to fish. Fish came first, the vertebrate legs. You have now created a simple cladogram. One branch is for fish, the other for monkeys. By the by, taxonomy is the process of naming organisms, and is neither accurate nor inaccurate. Phyletics is the science of determining the beasts genetic relationships, and that can be inaccurate if one is not careful.

Jim Murray

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