Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Challenge

For all ye readers of scientific mind, I present a challenge.

Anyone who's taken even a rudimentary biology class has at least a passing familiarity with the classification system applied to naming every living thing on this planet. In this system, there are some basic categories: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

In order to help students remember these categories, a variety of mnemonics have appeared over the years. I grew up with "King Phyl Came Over For Gathering Strawberries," although I've also heard he preferred "Good Spaghetti." A quick search on-line also turned up:

* Kindly place cover on fresh green spring vegetables.
* Krakatoa positively casts off fumes generating sulphurous vapours.
* Kings play cards on fairly good soft velvet.
* Kings play chess on fine grain sand.
* Ken poured coffee on Fran's good shirt.
* Kangaroos play cellos; orangutans fiddle; gorillas sing.

(The words starting with "v" stand in for "variety," which applies to plants.)

Still, for the purist, there are even more categories, which can lead to more confusion rather than clarity. For those who want to know 'em all, here's the list:

Domain, Kingdom, Subkingdom, Phylum, Subphylum, Class, Subclass, Infraclass, Superorder, Order, Superfamily, Family, Subfamily, Genus, Species, and Subspecies.

These don't, however, apply to plants, which have some different categories (see note above). For now, we shall ignore plants altogether.

So, faced with this expanded taxonomic list, I tried to come up with a new mnemonic to keep it all in mind (and to keep King Phyl in the picture). After wasting many minutes pondering it, here's what I finally came up with:

Dopey King Sigmund Phyl Saw Cows Singing in Sarah's Oven Saturday; Fortunately Sarah's Goats Stayed Silent.

Here's the challenge: come up with a better mnemonic and let me know what it is!


  1. I thought King Phillip Comes Over For Good Se..ah...Soup.

  2. Barefootheart - the guy gets around, so I wouldn't surprise me at all if he was out looking for some good "soup." :D