PuzzleFoundry Taxonomies


The purpose of going to the trouble of classifying all organisms that crossword puzzlers are likely to come across, is so that we can search and, via the “related” button, find related organisms.

If we were to link all plants, for example, to the entry, “plant”, in our thesaurus, there would be a huge number of them. Ideally we want to limit the number of same language links that any particular entry has to a maximum of 20, so that they are more manageable.

Each term in a PuzzleFoundry thesaurus can belong to one or more domains (general, technical, taxonomy). For the English thesaurus, all taxonomic terms are (pseudo-)Latin names with an initial capital. In Esperanto they are all lower case. In Spanish the taxonomic names are mostly the same as those used in English. In German some are the same but most are not. In Afrikaans? All taxa above genus are plural.

One of the difficulties with any taxonomy is that it has many levels of classification from species and subspecies right up to phylum and beyond. To prevent PuzzleFoundry being very complicated to maintain, we use only selected levels. For most purposes, puzzlers will mainly use common name, genus and family information. For example, if a puzzler searches for “lion”, and presses the “related” button, the related words “Carnivora Felis Leopardus tiger jaguar Lynx caracal leopard cat puma serval” will appear. This works because all these words are linked to their superset “Felidae”. Links have to be two-way for this to work.

Another reason for not taking it to the nth degree is that the taxonomies are in a constant state of flux with discoveries of previously unknown organisms and taxa being reclassified due to DNA analyses, for example.


Each common name (domain: general) is linked (Related) to the appropriate taxonomic term (domain: taxonomy). This is often a genus or family, but sometimes a higher level classification. Some are ambiguous.

Each genus is linked (Subset) to its family.

Each family is linked (Subset) to a higher-level category. This is usually the order.

Each order is linked (Subset) to a higher level such as a class or phylum.


For our purposes, the top of the taxonomic tree is “Organisms”. The main classifications are called domains: e.g. Eukaryota, Archaea, Bacteria, Phaeophyceae, Rhodophyta.


Bacteria is a domain. Below it are various phyla (e.g. Firmicutes) and classes (e.g. Bacilli). As there are relatively few bacteria words in our thesaurus, for now, link all of them (e.g. Staphylococcus) directly to Bacteria. To be reviewed.


Eukaryota is a domain. The next level below Eukaryota is kingdom: Animalia, Fungi, Plantae, Protista.


The next level below Animalia is usually phylum and includes: Annelida (segmented worms), Arthropoda , Chordata, Euarthropoda (insects etc), Porifera (sponges), Mollusca.


Below Chordata are: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes), Amphibia, Aves (birds), Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes), Mammalia, Reptilia, Tetrapoda, Vertebrata…


Orders: e.g. Anura, Urodela.


Birds are grouped by order: e.g. Accipitriformes, Anseriformes, Charadriiformes, Columbiformes, Coraciiformes, Falconidae, Galliformes, Gaviiformes, Gruiformes, Passeriformes, Pelecaniformes, Phoenicopteriformes, Piciformes, Procellariiformes, Psittaciformes, then by family and genus.


Mammals are grouped by order (mostly): e.g. Artiodactyla, Balaenidae, Carnivora, Cetacea, Marsupialia, Monotremata, Primates, Proboscidea, Rodentia. They are further grouped by family and genus.


All genera etc are linked directly to Nematoda because there are not many.


Below Reptilia are orders: Crocodilia, Rhynchocephalia (tuatara), Squamata (scaled reptiles) etc. They are further grouped by family and genus.


There are not many of these so the families may be enough: Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Agaricales...


Next level below Plantae is usually division: Angiospermae (unranked), Lycopodiophyta (Lycophyta), Pinophyta, Pteridophyta.

Within Angiospermae we group by order, family and genus. For the others, group by family. Angiospermae is a big group with about 30 members. This is unavoidable.


We may not have many of these so we have to decide how many levels to keep. We have a seaweed: genus: Saccharina; Family: Laminariaceae; Class: Phaeophyceae. Maybe just keep family. Next level below Protista is clade: Stramenopiles (Heterokonta) etc.

greeny 2018-03-28 00h48