Genus vs. Species: 7 Differences, Definition, Explanation

The words “genus” and “species” are used to talk about a certain plant, animal, or other living thing.

The primary distinction between genus and species is biological taxonomy.The genus comes before the species, and the species can never speak for itself.

What is a Genus

A genus is a taxonomic group that comes after the family and before the species. It is made up of various species that have similar traits. In binomial nomenclature, the name of the genus comes first, and then the name of the species comes next.

For example, Homo sapiens sapiens is the scientific name for a modern person. Homo is the genus name for people, and Sapiens sapiens is the species name.

Criteria for Classification

There are three things that make up a genus.

  • Monophyly is the classification of all descendants of a single ancestral taxon.
  • Reasonable compactness: The traits of the descendants shouldn’t be too big.
  • Distinctness: Similar DNA sequences, biogeographic features, ecological factors, and physical traits can be used to put species in the same genus.

Genus vs. Species

What is a Species

A species is a group of closely related animals with similar traits that can breed to make fertile offspring. It is regarded as the fundamental unit of organism classification. Some hybrid species can also have babies.

You can tell what species something is by how similar its DNA sequence is, how it looks, and how it lives. A species may consist of several breeds with significant differences.

Key Differences Between Genus And Species

DescriptionA genus is a taxonomic rank that is used to classify living organisms, fossils, and viruses biologically.Species is a group of an organism that have similar characteristics and can interbreed.
Name DerivationThe word genus is derived from a Greek word that means race.Species is derived from Latin words that mean appearance.
Number Of OrganismsThe genus contains a large number of organisms.Species consist of a few numbers of the organism
Hierarchy Of Biological ClassificationGenus comes below the family and above the species in a hierarchy of biological classification.Specie is a natural taxonomic unit that ranks below the genus
Species & SubspeciesA genus contains several species in it, and a number of genera can form a subfamily.A species has a number of subspecies in it, which are not included in writing the scientific name.
Binomial NomenclatureGenus is the first word of an organism’s scientific name and is always written in italics.Specie is the second word of the scientific name of an organism.
InterbreedingThe organism under the genus may or may not interbreed with each other.An organism of the same specie or subspecies can produce offspring.

Example of Genus and Species

Genus Examples

OrganismScientific NameGenus
HumansHomo SapiensHomo
CatsFelis CatusFelis

Species Examples

OrganismScientific NameSpecies
HumansHomo SapiensSapiens
CatsFelis CatusCatus

Genus vs. Species Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of Genus

Pros of Genus

  • The genus is the first level of classification in taxonomy.
  • A genus is the next level up from a species when it comes to grouping things.

Cons of Genus

  • The problem with Genus is that it is always written in italics, which makes it more difficult to remember.
  • People who don’t know about it find it strange and, for some, pointless.

Pros and Cons of Species

Pros of Species

  • A species is one of the most important ways to group organisms.
  • The species of an organism can tell you things about it, like where it came from and how it looks.

Genus vs. Species

Cons of Species

  • In binomial nomenclature, the genus must come before the species.
  • If the same species has different names, it could cause confusion.


There are two levels of classification in taxonomy: the genus and the species. The most basic level of classification for organisms is species, which is a group of closely related organisms that can breed to make fertile offspring.

A group of species that are very similar is called a genus. In biological taxonomy, the main difference between a genus and a species is their level of taxonomic ranking.

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