What Is A Key?
Dichotomous keys are designed to assist people with the identification of all types of living things from plants to microbes.
The word dichotomous comes from dichotomy meaning branching, contrasting or opposite ideas. A dichotomous key gives you a series of steps with a set of choices which are opposite or contrasting in nature that are initially very general and become more specific as one proceeds through the steps. By analyzing the physical characteristics of the object/organism in question and using the steps and choices given in the key, the observer can identify an object/organism based upon established traits.
You will learn all about dichotomous keys as you work through these exercises: