The world of living things, is our world, a world of interdependence and relatedness, it includes an incredible number of diverse and fascinating organisms. All of these organisms are, or should be important to us, our world is their world, their health is our our health and our life is their life. We are not separate or apart. We are joined, united, interactive and dependant on each other.
We can not live pretending the world is something separate, something that has no effect on us. The energy that flows through us all each day came from the sun, it was trapped by a plant, eaten by an animal which may have been us or an animal we later ate. Every atom of our bodies has been part of one or more plants, and many animals before it was us, and afterwards it will be other organisms again. The water we drink was drunk first by worms in the sea, then by insects then by dinosaurs and many other animals before it reached us. The air we breathe has been breathed before, or the molecules that make up the air may once have been a flower or a millipede or both.
As living things we need to be aware that life is not a straight line, it is an infinitely complex series of connected cycles. An ever changing mesh or web of interactiveness where every creature effects every other creature, and is in turn effected by them. We are all related. Remember this when you are learning about other organisms that share this world with us. We need all these other organisms, without them we would not be alive, they are therefore very beautiful and worthy of our compassion and love.
Nobody can ever know all the name of all creatures and plants and fungi that inhabit this world, there are far to many for the human mind to really even think about. Many, if not most, of the individual species that make up this wonderful rainbow of life are not even known yet to science. However the number of organisms that is known to science is already immense, well over 1 million.
In order to allow us to keep track of this amazing diversity of living things scientists divide them all up into series of categories (boxes) depending on how related they are to each other.
These categories are a lot like Chinese dolls in that each one contains smaller subcategories, sometimes only one, sometimes many. These categories come in a well defined hierarchy. Unfortunately not all scientists agree all the time on what categories to use or who exactly is in which category. This is not terribly important. The system I have used here is the most popular and will be sufficient for most people's needs until such times as their degree of learning is well beyond what little knowledge I offer on these pages, university undergraduate level and beyond.
What is important is learning to appreciate the wonder, glory and interrelatedness of the other living things that share this planet with us. It is often easier to love what you understand, so I hope these pages will help you understand, and love the living world a little more.