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Essay about Zoology

The study of zoology can be viewed as a series of efforts to analyse
and classify animals. Attempts at classification as early as 400 BC
are known from documents in the Hippocratic Collection. Aristotle,
however, was the first to devise a system of classifying animals that
recognized a basic unity of plan among diverse organisms; he arranged
groups of animals according to mode of reproduction and habitat.
Observing the development of such animals as the dogfish, chick, and
octopus, he noted that general structures appear before specialized
ones, and he also distinguished between asexual and sexual
reproduction. His Historia Animalium contains accurate descriptions of
extant animals of Greece and Asia Minor. He was also interested in
form and structure and concluded that different animals can have
similar embryological origins and that different structures can have
similar functions.

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In Roman times Pliny the Elder compiled four volumes on zoology in his
37-volume treatise called Historia Naturalis. Although widely read
during the Middle Ages, they are little more than a collection of
folklore, myth, and superstition. One of the more influential figures
in the history of physiology, the Greek physician Galen, dissected
farm animals, monkeys, and other mammals and described many features
accurately, although some were wrongly applied to the human body. His
misconceptions, especially with regard to the movement of blood,
remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. In the 17th
century, the English doctor William Harvey established the true
mechanism of blood circulation.

Until the Middle Ages, zoology was a conglomeration of folklore,
superstition, misconception, and descriptions of animals, but during
the 12th century it began to emerge as a science. Perhaps the most
important naturalist of the era was the German scholar St Albertus
Magnus, who denied many of the superstitions associated with biology
and reintroduced the work of Aristotle. The anatomical studies of
Leonardo da Vinci were far in advance of the age. His dissections and
comparisons of the structure of humans and other animals led him to
important conclusions. He noted, for example, that the arrangement of
joints and bones in the leg are similar in both horses and humans,
thus grasping the concept of homology (the similarity of corresponding
parts in different kinds of animals, suggesting a common grouping).
The value of his work in anatomy was not recognized in his time.
Instead, the Belgian doctor Andreas Vesalius is considered the father
of anatomy; he circulated his writings and established the principles
of comparative anatomy.

Classification dominated zoology throughout most of the 17th and 18th
centuries. The Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus developed a system of
nomenclature and classification that is still used today—the binomial
system of genus and species—and established taxonomy as a discipline.
He followed the work of the English naturalist John Ray in relying
upon the form of teeth and toes to differentiate mammals and upon beak
shape to classify birds. Another leading systematist of this era was
the French biologist Comte Georges Leclerc de Buffon. The study of
comparative anatomy was extended by such men as Georges Cuvier, who
devised a systematic organization of animals based on specimens sent
to him from all over the world.

Although the word cell was introduced in the 17th century by the
English scientist Robert Hooke, it was not until 1839 that two
Germans, Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, proved that the cell
is the common structural unit of living things. The cell concept
provided impetus for progress in embryology, founded by the Russian
scientist Karl von Baer, and for the development by a Frenchman,
Claude Bernard, of the study of animal physiology, including the
concept of homeostasis (the stability of the body’s internal
environment).

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The organization of scientific expeditions in the 18th and 19th
centuries gave trained observers the opportunity to study plant and
animal life throughout the world. The most famous expedition was the
voyage of the Beagle in the early 1830s. During this voyage, Charles
Darwin observed the plant and animal life of South America and
Australia and developed his theory of evolution by natural selection.
Although Darwin recognized the importance of heredity in understanding
the evolutionary process, he was unaware of the work of a
contemporary, the Austrian monk Gregor Mendel, who first formulated
the concept of particulate hereditary factors—later called genes.
Mendel’s work remained obscure until 1900.

Current Studies:

In the 20th century zoology has become more diversified and less
confined to such traditional concerns as classification and anatomy.
Broadening its range to include such studies as genetics, ecology, and
biochemistry, zoology has become an interdisciplinary field applying a
great variety of techniques to obtain knowledge of the animal kingdom.

The current study of zoology has two main focuses: on particular
taxonomic groups, and on the structures and processes common to most
of them.

Taxonomically oriented studies concentrate on the different divisions
of animal life. Invertebrate zoology deals with multicellular animals
without backbones; its subdivisions include entomology (the study of
insects) and malacology (the study of molluscs). Vertebrate zoology,
the study of animals with backbones, is divided into ichthyology
(fish), herpetology (amphibians and reptiles), ornithology (birds),
and mammalogy (mammals). Palaeontology, the study of fossils, is
subdivided by taxonomic groups. In each of these fields, researchers
investigate the classification, distribution, life cycle, and
evolutionary history of the particular animal or group of animals
under study. Most zoologists are also specialists in one or more of
the process-oriented disciplines described below.

Morphology, the study of structure, includes gross morphology, which
examines entire structures or systems, such as muscles or bones;
histology, which examines body tissues; and cytology, which focuses on
cells and their components. Many great advances made in cytology in
recent years are attributable to the electron microscope and the
scanning electron microscope. Special staining techniques and
radioactive isotopic tracers have been used to differentiate
structural detail at the molecular level. Methods have been developed
for mapping neural connections between parts of the brain and for
stimulating and recording impulses from specific brain sites and even
individual nerve cells.

Physiology, the study of function, is closely associated with
morphology. An important subdivision is cellular physiology, which is
closely related to molecular biology. Another active field,
physiological ecology, studies the physical responses of animals to
their environment. Much of this work has been carried out on desert,
arctic, and ocean animals that must survive extremes of temperature or
pressure.

Animal behavioural studies developed along two lines. The first of
these, animal psychology, is primarily concerned with physiological
psychology and has traditionally concentrated on laboratory techniques
such as conditioning. The second, ethology, had its origins in
observations of animals under natural conditions, concentrating on
courtship, flocking, and other social contacts. Both subdisciplines
have recently merged in large areas of investigation, the same
scientists using field and laboratory observations and incorporating
many experimental techniques from neurology. Perhaps the most
important recent development in the field is the concentration on
sociobiology, which is concerned with the behaviour, ecology, and
evolution of social animals such as bees, ants, schooling fish,
flocking birds, and humans. Sociobiology is still in its infancy and
is quite controversial, chiefly because it has raised anew the old
dispute about whether behaviour is genetically determined.

Embryology, the study of the development of individual animals, has
investigated the way in which developing parts interact—for example,
the interactions between the eyestalk and the epidermis during
development of the lens of the eye. The emerging field of molecular
development applies the techniques of molecular biology, including
molecular genetics, to the finest and most obscure embryological
details.

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The study of the interactions between animals and their environment is
known as ecology. Primary attention is given to the complex pattern of
interactions among the many species constituting a community. Ecology
has been central to the development of conservation and environmental
control during the past 20 years. It has revealed the deleterious
effects of pesticides and industrial pollutants and has provided
important insights into wiser management of agriculture, forestry, and
fisheries.

Evolutionary zoology, which draws on all of the fields just mentioned,
is concerned with the mechanisms of evolutionary change—speciation and
adaptation—and with the evolutionary history of animal groups.
Particularly relevant to evolutionary studies are systematics,
phylogenetics, palaeontology, and zoogeography. Systematics deals with
the delineation and description of animal species and with their
arrangement into a classification. Phylogenetics is the study of the
developmental history of groups of animals. Zoogeography, the study of
the distribution of animals over the Earth, is closely related to
ecology and systematics.

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Essay about Zoology
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The study of zoology can be viewed as a series of efforts to analyse and classify animals. Attempts at classification as early as 400 BC are known from documents in the Hippocratic Collection. Aristotle, however, was the first to devise a system of classifying animals that recognized a basic unity of plan among diverse organisms; he arranged groups of animals according to mode of reproduction and habitat. Observing the development of such animals as the dogfish, chick, and octopus, he not
2019-04-17 02:18:30
Essay about Zoology
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