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Classification and Evolution

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An Overview of Classification and Evolution

IVSAT 2024

Based on the body's form and function, all living organisms are recognised and categorised. Since it already exists, a certain body design will shape the impacts of all subsequent design alterations once it does. Therefore, qualities that first appeared are likely to be more fundamental than those that appeared later. This implies that the taxonomy of life forms and their evolution are tightly intertwined.

What is Classification and Evolution?

Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organisation including the levels of species, individual organisms, and molecules.

Organisms differ in their form, structure and mode of living. Hence, based on their similarities they should be grouped. The grouping of related organisms helps us in studying their evolutionary relationships.

Classification is the division of organisms on the basis of characteristics into groups and sub-groups. A characteristic may be a particular form or function. For example, classification of animals can be done based on some criteria.

What is the Relationship Between Classification and Evolution?

The method of arranging organisms into groups on the basis of similarities and differences is called classification. Evolution on the other hand refers to a slow, gradual and continuous process by which the previously existing organisms develop into existing living organisms.

How are the Areas of Study of Evolution and Classification Interlinked?

All living beings are identified and classified based on the shape and function of their bodies. As a result, features that emerged earlier are more likely to be fundamental than characteristics that emerged later. This implies that the taxonomy of life forms is inextricably linked to their evolution.

Classification and Evolution of Living Organisms

'Evolvere' means "to unfurl or unroll" in Latin, which indicates "to expose or express latent potentialities." Evolutionary Biology is the branch of Biology that deals with the term "evolution." Evolution is defined as the act of unfolding or unrolling, and it is an orderly 'transition' from one form to another.

Classification entails recognising similarities and differences between various types of creatures and then grouping similar species together and dissimilar types of organisms together.

Evolution

Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who lived in the 19th century.

  • He created a theory about how evolution works.

  • He researched the Galapagos Islands because each island's ecosystem was unique.

  • He authored a book called The Origin of Species.

Darwin's Theory states that all species evolved from a common ancestor.

  • Variation is defined as a little variance in an inherited property of individual individuals of a species. It is caused by mutations during sexual reproduction.

  • Natural Selection or "Survival of the Fittest"; organisms with variants that help them survive, live longer, and hence reproduce to pass on those variations.

  • For example, if the food sources are at a higher height, tortoises with longer necks will live longer than tortoises with short necks.

Adaptations

Adaptations are hereditary characteristics that boost an organism's chances of survival and reproduction in its environment.

Three kinds of adaptations:

  • Structural Adaptations - They include characteristics such as colouring and form.

  • Behavioural Adaptations - They refer to how an organism behaves. For example, night hunting and herd movement.

  • Functional Adaptations - They entail interior body systems. For example, temperature regulation and hibernation.

What is the Basis of Evolution?

There are several bases of evolution.

1. Comparative Anatomy is the study of the similarities and differences between the structures of living organisms.

  • Homologous Structures: Body parts of organisms that are structurally similar but function differently.

  • Analogous Structures: Body parts that serve the same purpose but differ in structure. For example, bird and insect wings.

  • Vestigial Structures: Body parts that have evolved and lost their original purpose. It demonstrates that the structures formerly served a purpose, but are no longer required. For example, cormorant wings, and whale pelvic bones.

2. Molecular Biology

  • DNA may be used by scientists to determine how closely related organisms are.

  • Divergence is the separation of an organism from its common ancestor.

3. The Fossil Record

The fossil record is a collection of all the fossils ever discovered on Earth. It provides proof that species have evolved over time. The remnants or evidence of once-living species are referred to as fossils.

Formation of Fossils

  • Mineralisation: Minerals in water replace the original substance of the organism and solidify into rock.

  • Carbonisation: Under tremendous pressure, the organism's liquids and gases evaporate, leaving only the carbon outline.

  • Moulds and Castings: Mould is an organism's imprint in solidified mud or sand, while a cast is a fossilised duplicate of an organism in a rock formed by silt filling in the mould.

  • Trace fossils are fossilised evidence of an organism's activities, such as footprints.

  • Original material: The original tissues of an organism, such as insects preserved in amber (tree sap).

Classification

Classification is the process of grouping objects based on shared features. There have been several approaches to classifying living things. Aristotle classified all life into two categories: plants and animals. Classification of Species Homo Sapiens within the Order Primates was done.

Linnaeus' System:

  • Linnaeus established modern taxonomy.

  • Taxonomy is the study of describing, categorising, and identifying living things.

  • Based on seven hierarchical categories, he simplified the naming of living things by assigning each species a two-part particular name known as "Binomial nomenclature."

  • Seven-Hierarchical categories are:

  • Kingdom

  • Phylum

  • Class

  • Order

  • Family

  • Genus

  • Species

Evolutionary Trees

How do we picture evolution if it can take a very long time?

The concept of an evolutionary tree was developed by Charles Darwin to illustrate the connections between many species and their common ancestors. The roots of the tree stand in for the progenitors of all life. The division into broad branches reveals the points at which these initial species changed to become new species.

As species continue to grow into more and more species, the branches continue to split into smaller and smaller branches. Short twigs that emerge from the tree before ceasing symbolise some species. These were species that died off before diversifying into new ones. Various scientists have produced other "Trees of Life."

Interesting Facts

  • Every living thing developed from bacteria that existed billions of years ago.

  • Biological evolution is thought to have begun roughly 3.7 billion years ago. Homo sapiens first appeared 250,000 years ago.

  • Human evolution has taken around 5 million years.

Practice Questions

1. Which categorisation kingdom did Linnaeus use?

  1. Artificial system

  2. Natural system

  3. Phylogenetic system

  4. Asexual system

Ans: The correct answer is option (a).

2. Which classification system was developed by Bentham and Hooker?

  1. Numerical

  2. Phylogenetic

  3. Artificial

  4. Natural

Ans: The correct answer is option (d).

Key Features

  • Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organisation including the levels of species, individual organisms, and molecules.

  • Classification is the division of organisms on the basis of characteristics into groups and sub-groups. A characteristic may be a particular form or function. For example, classification of animals can be done based on some criteria.

  • 'Evolvere' means "to unfurl or unroll" in Latin, which indicates "to expose or express latent potentialities." Evolutionary biology is the branch of biology that deals with the term "evolution." Evolution is defined as the act of unfolding or unrolling, and it is an orderly 'transition' from one form to another.

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FAQs on Classification and Evolution

1. Why does categorisation benefit from evolution?

The following are the reasons as to why categorisation benefits from evolution:

  • Categorisation is concerned with understanding how organisms develop, and how new species arise from existing ones. 

  • In terms of evolution, classification reveals how closely related different organisms are. 

  • It is predicated on the idea that each organism has undergone some alteration since deriving from its ancestral form. 

  • Taxonomists were able to create categorization groups thanks to a hierarchy of traits.

2. What connections do classification and evolution have?

The following points enlist the connection between classification and evolution:

  • Traditional classification is based on similarities and differences, whereas evolutionary classification is based on shared ancestors. 

  • Biology has two subfields: categorization and evolution. 

  • One is concerned with understanding how organisms develop, and how new species arise from existing ones, while classification is concerned with determining how closely related two species are to one another.

3. What distinguishes evolutionary classification from traditional classification?

The following are the differences between evolutionary classification and traditional classification:

  • Traditional classification is based on similarities and differences, whereas evolutionary classification is based on shared ancestors. 

  • Evolution has paved the ground for categorisation at a basic level. 

  • Even if evolution has occurred, certain species still have ancestor body designs when it comes to the classification of creatures. 

  • They didn't entirely alter. While other organisms evolved new, more advanced body plans that were distinct from those of their ancestors.


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