Carl Linnaeus was a brilliant botanist. He and his students explored many countries and discovered thousands of new types of plants. However, he is most famous for finding a way of organising these discoveries and naming them; a system that every biologist still uses today.

Answers to the quiz

Blue whale   Cow
They are both mammals.

Giraffe    Hippopotamus
They both are hoofed animals.

Tarantula   Scorpion
Both are arachnids.

Lobster    Woodlouse
Both are in the same class - with segmented bodies.

Anteater   Sloths

Koala    Kangaroo
They are both marsupials.

Boa constrictor    Tortoise
Both are reptiles.

Squirrel    Porcupine
Both are rodents (a rabbit isn't).

Ostrich    Kiwi
Both are in the same order of flightless birds.

Newt    Frog
Both are amphibians.

Curriculum Links

Getting it right

Working scientifically

Scientific attitudes

  • understand that scientific methods and theories develop as earlier explanations are modified to take account of new evidence and ideas, together with the importance of publishing results and peer review

Experimental skills and investigations

  • ask questions and develop a line of enquiry based on observations of the real world, alongside prior knowledge and experience


Genetics and evolution

  • differences between species


Scottish Curriculum Links


SCN 2-01a

Planet Earth - Biodiversity and interdependence



TCH 3-04a

ICT to enhance learning

I enhance my learning by applying my ICT skills in different learning contexts across the curriculum.


TCH 4-04a

ICT to enhance learning

Throughout my learning, I can make effective use of a computer system to process and organise information.


TCH 4-03b

ICT to enhance learning

I can use ICT effectively in different learning contexts across the curriculum to access, select and present relevant information in a range of tasks.

Getting it right

wolfAlthough Carl Linnaeus was brilliant for devising a way of organising life and allowing scientists to talk to each other around the world, it is important to know that he didn't always get it right.

Is there a right and a wrong way of dividing up living things?  Why shouldn't we divide plants up by the colour of their flowers, or animals into groups depending on whether they can fly or not?

Well, a group of flying animals would include some birds, bats and insects, all of which we 'know' are very different animals.  What we want to end up with is a group of animals which are similar, but perhaps having only one or two differences.  This allows us to study how they are related.

Scientists today use genetics to determine which 'group' an animal will fall into.  Genetics is the study of an animal's genes (from the DNA which is found in every cell in a body).  A scientist may look at the order of an animal's genes and find other animals which are genetically very similar.  This is a much more accurate way of deciding what animals should be grouped together.

Key fact: Studying the genetics of species helps scientists classify them more accurately, and work out which species are related to each other.

The end goal might be to find out how an animal evolved.  Genetics shows us that we humans are most closely related to chimpanzees.  Linnaeus classified pet dogs as Canis familiaris - a separate group of dogs - but genetics now shows that pet dogs are a sub-species (a smaller group) of grey wolf.  It is nice to know that if you have a pet dog you officially have a wolf in your house!



Getting closer

Which is the most closely related to a...?

Take the quiz online here,

or download the pdf worksheet.