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Zoology (Greek zoon = animal and logos = word) is the biological discipline that researches animals.

History of zoology

Branches of biology relevant to zoology

The original branches of zoology established in the late 19th century such as zoo-physics, bionomics, and morphography, have largely been subsumed into more broad areas of biology which include studies of mechanisms common to both plants and animals. The biology of animals is covered in several broad areas:

  1. The physiology of animals is studied under various fields including anatomy and embryology
  2. The common genetic and developmental mechanisms of animals and plants is studied in molecular biology, molecular genetics and developmental biology
  3. The ecology of animals is covered under behavioral ecology and other fields
  4. Evolutionary biology of both animals and plants is considered in the articles on evolution, population genetics, heredity, variation, Mendelism, reproduction.
  5. Systematics, cladistics, phylogenetics, phylogeography, biogeography and taxonomy classify and group species via common descent and regional associations.

In addition the various taxonomically oriented-disciplines such as mammalogy, herpetology, ornithology study mechanisms that are specific to those groups.


Systems of classification

Morphography includes the systematic exploration and tabulation of the facts involved in the recognition of all the recent and extinct kinds of animals and their distribution in space and time. (1) The museum-makers of old days and their modern representatives the curators and describers of zoological collections, (2) early explorers and modern naturalist travellers and writers on zoo-geography, and (3) collectors of fossils and palaeontologists are the chief varieties of zoological workers coming under this heading. Gradually, since the time of Hunter and Cuvier, anatomical study has associated itself with the more superficial morphography until today no one considers a study of animal form of any value which does not include internal structure, histology and embryology in its scope.

The real dawn of zoology after the legendary period of the Middle Ages is connected with the name of an Englishman, Edward Edward Wotton, born at Oxford in 1492, who practised as a physician in London and died in 1555. He published a treatise De differentiis animalium at Paris in 1552. In many respects Wotton was simply an exponent of Aristotle, whose teaching, - with various fanciful additions, constituted the real basis of zoological knowledge throughout the Middle Ages. It was Wotton's merit that he rejected the legendary and fantastic accretions, and returned to Aristotle and the observation of nature.

The most ready means of noting the progress of zoology during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries is to compare Aristotle's classificatory conceptions of successive naturalists with those which are to be found in the works of Caldon.


Notable zoologists

  • Louis Agassiz (malacology, ichthyology)
  • Aristotle
  • Bonnaterre, Pierre-Joseph
  • Archie Carr, (June 16, 1909-May 21, 1987) (Herpetology), esp. sea turtles
  • Charles Darwin
  • Richard Dawkins (ethology)
  • Dian Fossey (primatology)
  • Arthur David Hasler, (January 5, 1908-March 23, 2001) (limnology, ichthyology, salmon homing)
  • Victor Hensen, (February 10, 1835-April 5, 1924) (planktology)
  • Libbie Hyman (invertebrate zoology)
  • William Kirby (father of entomology)
  • Carolus Linnaeus (father of systematics)
  • Konrad Lorenz (ethology)
  • David W. Macdonald (wild mammals)
  • Ernst Mayr (1905-2005), influential evolutionary biologist, one of the founders of the "modern synthesis" of evolutionary theory in the 1940s.
  • Desmond Morris (ethology)
  • Ron Nowak (wild mammals)
  • Roger Tory Peterson (ornithology)
  • Thomas Say (entomology)
  • Ernest P. Walker (wild mammals)
  • E. O Wilson, b. 1929, (entomology, founder of sociobiology)
  • Jakob van Uexküll (animal behavior, invertebrate zoology)


See also

  • Zoological distribution
  • Zootomy - the study of animal anatomy or animal dissection
  • Cryptozoology - the study of hidden or unknown animals
  • Palaeontology
  • Oceanography
  • Entomology - the area of biology which studies insects
  • Botany - the area of biology which studies plants
  • Microtomy
  • List of zoologists
  • Important Publications in Zoology

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