Materials

Background

1. Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing, and classifying organisms.

2. Why is classification essential to biology?

3. A dichotomous key uses pairs of contrasting, descriptive statements to lead to the identification of an organism (or other object).

4. The principle behind dichotomous keys—the forced choice—is used in many different situations to narrow the path toward an answer. If you have ever had your eyes examined for corrective lenses, you are familiar with the series of forced choices that end with the choice of the correct lenses for your eyes.

5. Do not confuse a dichotomous key with a cladogram. A cladogram represents evolutionary relationships, whereas a dichotomous key does not.

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