Ancient Chinese Animal Taxonomy

Ancient Chinese science is abundant with five-point taxonomies, based upon an evaluation of and categorization based upon inherent essence, or Qi. In each case, disparate phenomenon are grouped together and considered interrelated because of their similar Qi-based traits, with certain qualities corresponding portably across systems. Zou Yan, a scholar from the 3rd Century BCE, is sometimes attributed with the first catalog of this kind.

Here is the classification of animals, with their correlations to the elements, seasons, compass directions, and colors.

SCALEY (fish and reptiles) • Wood • Spring • East • Green/Blue
FEATHERED (birds) • Fire • Summer • South • Red
NAKED (humans) • Earth • Late Summer • Center • Yellow
HAIRY (mammals) • Metal • Autumn • West • White
ARMORED (terrapin) • Water • Winter • North • Black