What is a species?

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To make them easier to talk about, scientists often classify living things into different kinds of groups. One classification of living things that you might sometimes hear about is “species.” The definition for how to classify living things into different species from one another changes as science makes further progress and discoveries. – In fact, not every scientist today classifies a species the same way!

Some scientists today define “a species” as a group of living things that are able to breed and produce offspring who can also breed. Because all living things are made in such an interesting (and complicated!) way, not all living things are able or likely to breed, and sometimes even if they do, the offspring that result are not strong enough to survive or able to have their own offspring. – This is one way that some scientists divide what kinds of living things are of different species from one another.

Other scientists classify species in different ways, such as according to their genetic make-up. “Genetic make-up” basically refers to the characteristics something has inherited from its parents. Sometimes these characteristics are things you can see and other times they are things you cannot see without special scientific testing. – Scientists who classify species by their genetic make-up say that living things that have certain inherited genetic qualities in common are part of the same species!

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration

    Classy Classifications!

    What are some other ways scientists classify living things that you have learned about?
    One good example is the way that animals are classified into categories like “mammals,” “reptiles,” or “amphibians.”
    What have you learned about these groups of animals and how they are given their classifications? Does it depend upon certain physical characteristics? Certain ways that the animals behave, or how they are born? Why do you think having these different groups and classifications are so helpful??

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