Tax day has come and gone to our personal relief, at least for most of us. Paperwork is the one thing that could easily drive me to living off the grid and hiding away from civilized society. This may have also been what prompted one author to ask “How does nature file its taxas?” National Geographic brought this news to our attention in their article, “It’s Almost Tax Day: Here’s How Nature Files Its Taxas.”

The scientific practice of arranging and naming all living organisms into groups is called taxonomy. Formalized by 18th-century naturalist Carl Linnaeus, taxonomy organizes all living things into seven categories called taxa, ranging from broadest to the most specific. The system groups them based on how closely related they are to each other.

When identifying a new species, taxonomists often look at its appearance, structure, and genetics, and compare it with museum specimens. Scientists have many strategies when naming a species. Some are more practical and involve the species’ color or location, and some can get a little whimsical.

The returns on taxas vs. tax day are different but taxonomists provide us answers within names, and the questions are endless.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.