Animals Are Distinctive But Not Uniform
A very important question to ask when thinking about vegetarianism is, “Are animals really animals?” The answer depends on who you ask. While most vegetarians will claim that animals are not animals, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding this topic, making it difficult to state with certainty that animals are not animals.
Animals are classified as either cetaceans or chordates depending on whether they retain their vestigial forelimbs and retain their ability to swim. The classification also depends on whether or not species can interbreed. Vegetarians claim that animals are either cetaceans or chordates, while animal rights activists maintain that fish are categorised as a separate genus altogether.
Plants are classified as either Homoplasmic. While homoplasmic plants are part of a clade (clades mean classifications of related plants that are classified by similar characteristics), homoplasmic subspecies are unique to species. For example, there are only two recognized subspecies of the umbrella flower C. heterophyllum, whereas there are over twenty recognized subspecies of the common cabbage. Animals and plants share many common characteristics such as a plump, fleshy interior; vascular system which consists of numerous branches; scent glands (although not all animals secrete scent) and reproductive organs but differ in specific traits.
Taxonomic rank is based on similarities and differences among species and subspecies. An animal may be ranked in one of four general categories according to its physical features. These categories are Homoplasmic (or subgenus), Pathogenetic, Generational, or Prototypic.
Within each rank, there are several hundred rank places that separating one animal from another. Rank is not a determinant for identifying a species, however, as most animals do not possess unique characters that distinguish them from other members of their genus or group. Most modern genus and family names that are used to identify animals also belong to a subspecies. For example, horses, cattle, pigs, etc.
The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature is divided into five parts. Parts one through four describe general features of an animal. Parts five through seven detail unique characteristics of animals, while parts eight through twelve identify distinguishing characteristics unique to a particular subfamily. Parts thirteen through twenty-one provide details of common types of animals and plants, respectively, while parts twenty-two through twenty-nine give details of distinctive fishes. Parts one through twenty-one are inclusive of aquatic animals and fishes, while parts twenty-two through twenty-nine provide information concerning land animals and aquatic plants.