Though it has changed throughout the years, you can thank Swedish botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus for creating a taxonomy to categorize all living beings. In 1735, he introduced this system in "Systema Naturae," an 11-page pamphlet. Linnaeus summarized his work as "God created, Linnaeus organized."
He was not the first to attempt to make sense of all life forms. Aristotle looked at animals through ethnology, physiology and anatomy. Theophrastus categorized plants by the way they originated. And Pliny the Elder also gave it a go.
"There were different systems in use at the time," said Janis Sacco, the former director of exhibitions at Harvard Museum of Science & Culture, to The Harvard Gazette. "Some were ecological, based on the idea that organisms that existed in the same habitat must be related to one another. Linnaeus believed that there should be a regular, systematic way of identifying what something is by comparing it to something else."