TAXONOMY OF CETACEANS
(whales, dolphins and porpoises)

In biology, taxonomy is the science of naming and hierarchically grouping organisms according to their proven or presumed relationships. The system was developed by the Swedish scientist Linnaeus in the 18th century, and is based on two main features:
  1. Binomial nomenclature
    Any organism's scientific name is a combination of two terms - the genus and the species. Both terms are italicised and the genus name is also capitalised (e.g. Orcinus orca).
  2. Classification categories
    Species are ordered hierarchically into a series of categories and subcategories, which become more and more specific as the species level is approached.
The 7 major categories are:
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species
Whales, dolphins and porpoises, collectively called cetaceans, belong to the order Cetacea.
For cetaceans, an extra category called suborder (placed between order and family) comes into play, so that a distinction can be made between toothed and baleen species - i.e. Odontoceti and Mysticeti.
A third suborder called Archaeoceti comprises a group of extinct animals, which is not included in our Taxonomy Browser below.

Taxonomy Browser

Order: Cetacea
Number of extant suborders: 2
Number of families: 14
Number of genera: 39
Number of species: 87
Number of toothed cetaceans (odontocetes): 72
Number of toothless cetaceans (mysticetes): 15

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