Naming Business

Suitable forCurriculum Point
Year 4recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways
Year 6living things and their habitats; classification

In this video we find out why Linnaeus thought naming all living things was an important task. We also learn about how these names allow us to group similar living things together so that we can understand them better. The content lends itself well to discussions around similar species, and their closest group of species (Genus) and their broader group (Family).

Below we provide a full transcript of the video, a supporting worksheet and follow on questions for your class

Questions to follow up with

The South American Rhea bird and the African Ostrich can both be described as a 'large, feathered, long-necked, big-footed, backward-knee-bending bird', but they are actually completely different species. Can you think of two different species that have lots of the same descriptions?

Dogs and cats - medium sized, furry, four-footed, aggressive, long tailed mammals

Tortoise and turtle - reptilian, shelled, withdraw-able heads, shy

There are no other species within our genus 'Homo', but about 40,000 years ago there was another species called the Neanderthals, Homo neanderthalensis. The Neanderthals are thought to have been stockier, with shorter limbs and a larger chest and nose. Imagine a whole other species of 'Homo'. What features might they have and what could you call them?

Make use of Google Translate to find out latin names for English words.

They could be really tall (Homo longus) or really short (Homo brevis); or they might be fast runners (Homo velox) or move at a sloth-like speed (Homo slothi). Think about why these features may have been useful for survival at some point in the past, and also why they become disadvantages and led to their extinction.

There are eight species within our Family (Hominidae) which can be grouped into Humans, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans. All of the other members of our Family are classed as Endangered or Critically Endangered. Why do you think this is?

Humans are highly adaptable and can live successful in different environments. This has allowed them to spread across the world. Humans can have negative impacts on other species by destroying their habitats through deforestation, hunting individuals for meat or prizes, and through introducing new diseases.

The Panther, Lion and Tiger can all be grouped together as members of the cat Family (Felidae). Can you name some members of the bear Family (Ursidae)?

Brown/Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Polar Bear, Giant Panda, Sloth Bear

All living things have a common ancestor if you go far back enough in time. Even Humans and Ladybirds (about 560 Million Years Ago). How far about do you think you'd need to go to find the ancestor of a Lion and a Bear? What would it look like?

Ah-ha! This great article by National Geographic has an artist's interpretation of what the ancestor might have looked like. The species, named Dormaalocyon latouri would have lived 55 million years ago.

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