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What is Classification and how does it work?

All things on our planet have a name. This name identifies each thing from another, may it be Object, Animal, or Plant. Things are sorted together according to their similarities, forming groups. Groups that have close resemblance are then collectively known as Class.

Sharks belong to the class of boneless fish known as Chondrichthyes. The Chondrichthyes class is divided in two subclasses Holocephali
{Chimeras) and Elasmobranchii {Sharks and Rays}.

Similar species of sharks are put into Families, and families with similar characteristics are placed in larger groups called Orders. At present we know about 544 different types of sharks and these are grouped in around 34 families under 8 Orders.

Because some sharks are known with different names in different parts of the world, scientists give each Species a Scientific name. A clear example of this is the Sandtiger. This shark is known also as Ragged Tooth {South Africa} and Grey Nurse {Australia} so these 3 different names refer to the Sandtiger Carcharias taurus. So if one had to follow the line down for the Sandtiger as classified in the Animal kingdom, It would read like this:


Kingdom:  Animalia   
Phylum: Chordata  Subphylum: Vetrebrata
Class: Chondrichthyes  Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Lamniformes  Family: Carchariidae
Genus: Carcharias  Species: Taurus
Scientific Name: Carcharias taurus
Common Name: Sandtiger Shark

It is for this reason that whenever we refer to a specific shark, we write down both common and scientific name. {i.e. Sandtiger (Carcharias taurus)}

Sandtiger Shark
Drawing by Ian Fergusson
Sharks Order Chart

There are 8 Orders of Sharks.

Classification grid
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