In order for us to understand how all living organisms are related, they are arranged into different groups. The more features that a group of animals share, the more specific the group is. Animals are given scientific names so that people all around the world can communicate about animals, no matter what language they speak (these names are traditionally Latin words). Animals belong to a number of different groups, starting with the animal kingdom.
All living organisms are first placed into different kingdoms. There are five different kingdoms to classify life on Earth, which are Animals, Plants, Fungi, Bacteria, and Protists (single-celled organisms).
The animal kingdom is divided into 40 smaller groups, known as phylum. Here, animals are grouped by their main features. Animals usually fall into one of five different phylum which are Cnidaria (invertebrates), Chordata (vertebrates), Arthropods, Molluscs and Echinoderms.
The phylum group is then divided into even smaller groups, known as classes. The Chordata (vertebrates) phylum splits up into Mammalia (Mammals), Actinopterygii (Bony Fish), Chondrichthyes (Cartilaginous Fish) , Aves (Birds), Amphibia (Amphibians) and Reptilia (Reptiles).
Each class is divided into small groups again, known as orders. The class Mammalia (Mammals), splits into different groups including Carnivora, Primate, Artiodactyla and Rodentia.
In every order, there are different families of animals which all have very similar features. The Carnivora order breaks into families that include Felidae (Cats), Canidae (Dogs), Ursidae (Bears), and Mustelidae (Weasels).
Every animal family is then divided into small groups known as genus. Each genus contains animals that have very similar features and are closely related. For example, the Felidae (Cat) family contains genus including Felis (small Cats and domestic Cats), Panthera (Tigers, Leopards, Jaguars and Lions) and Puma (Panthers and Cougars).
Each individual species within the genus is named after it's individual features and characteristics. The names of animals are in Latin so that they can be understood worldwide, and consist of two words. The first word in the name of an animal will be the genus, and the second name indicates the specific species.