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Cetacean Diversity

Both biologists and palaeontologists use a system of classifying animals that was introduced by the Swedish zoologist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778). Using a hierarchically organised set of groups (in ascending order: species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom, domain), evolutionary relationships between animals can be made visible.

Cetaceans are animals, vertebrates (or in a somewhat broader sense, chordates) and mammals, and thus fall into the kingdom 'Animalia', the phylum 'Chordata' and the class 'Mammalia'. Within the mammals, they are now grouped together with the artiodactyls (even-toed hoofed animals like cows, pigs or hippos) in the order 'Cetartiodactyla'.

Finally, scientists distinguish between three cetacean suborders:

Please follow the links for an in-depth description of the three groups and their evolutionary history.