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A hierarchy of important ranks

A genus is a rank in the biological classification (or taxonomy). It stands above species, and below families. A genus can include more than one species. When biologists talk about a genus, they mean one or more species of animals or plants that are closely related to each other.

The plural is different from other English words because it is a Latin word. 'Genus' is the singular, and 'genera' is the plural form of the word.

When printing the scientific name of an organism, the name is always in italic. A name of species has two parts, with the genus first. For example, in "Felis silvestris", Felis is the genus. The genus name always begins with a capital letter. In "Felis silvestris catus", the third word is the subspecies, which is not often used.

As a common word

In writing, genus names in Latin may be 'anglicised' to form a common name. For example, the genus Pseudomonas is "pseudomonad" (plural: "pseudomonads"). In practice, most really common animals and plants already have a common name. So instead of saying 'felids', or 'felines', one says 'cats'. The word 'cat' is used both for the family pet, and also as a general term for all the cat family (Felidae).

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.