Palaeos Palaeos The Linnaean System
Systematics Family



In the Linnaean system (and taxonomic systems based on it), the Family is a taxonomic category between Order and Tribe.  It might seem strange that a family is considered higher than a tribe (i.e. a family can contain many tribes, but not vice versa), but such is the way these names are.  When there are no Tribes, the Family is a taxonomic category between Order and Genus.   More even then an order, a family is a group of organisms among which the differences are quite minor, e.g. Equidae - horses and their relatives, Ceratopsidae - horned dinosaurs, or Hominidae, man and ape-men. Some families contain thousands of species, others might only have a single species.

Note: Although again the differences among Hominids are extremely slight, here we see a chauvinistic taxonomic inflation, elevated a probably genus rank to family ranking; more recently cladistics, with its preference for giving each recognised branching point its own linnaean rank (which can be problematic if a cladogram contains dozens of nested nodes) has taken this to the other direction, reducing hominids as traditionally defined to the status as of a subtribe.

rank suffix
Magnafamily -idea
Superfamily -oidea or -acea
Epifamily -oidae
Family -idae
Subfamily -inae

images not loading? | error messages? | broken links? | suggestions? | criticism?

contact us

page by M. Alan Kazlev (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License)
page uploaded 20 May 2002
checked ATW031211, edited RFVS111202, last modified MAK130319
(originally uploaded on Kheper site 27 May 1999)
Creative Commons License

Unless otherwise noted,
the material on this page may be used under the terms of a
Creative Commons License.