Subdivision of biological classification composed of related organisms that share common characteristics and can interbreed. Organisms are grouped into species according to their outer similarities, but more important in classifying organisms that reproduce sexually is their ability to interbreed successfully. To be members of the same species, individuals must be able to mate and produce viable offspring. Because genetic variations originate in individuals which then pass on their variations only within the species, it is at the species level that evolution takes place (see speciation). The international system of binomial nomenclature assigns new species a two-part name.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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