Saturday, May 25, 2013

Z is for ZOOLOGY

Zoology is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom. including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct.  The term is derived from Ancient Greek (zoon "animal") + (logos, "knowledge").  I am sorry but I don't have the alphabet on my computer to show the real Greek words correctly).

The history of zoology traces the study of the animal kingdom from ancient to modern times.  Although the concept of zoology as a single coherent field arose much later, the zoological sciences emerged from natural history reaching back to the works of Aristotle and Galen in the ancient Greco-Roman world.  This ancient work was further developed in the Middle Ages muslim physicians and scholars such as Albertus Magnus.  During the Renaissance and early modern period, zoological thought was revolutionised in Europe by a renewed interest in empiricism and the discovery of many novel organisms.  Prominent in this movement were Vesalius and William Harvey, who used experimentation and careful observation in physiology, and naturalists such as Carl Linnaeus and Buffon who began to classify the diversity of life and the fossil record, as well as the development and behaviour of organisms.  Microscopy revealed the previously unknown world of microorganisms, laying the groundwork for cell theory.  The growing importance of natural theology, partly a response ot the rise of mechanical philosophy, encouraged the growth of natural history (although it entrenched the arument from design).

Over the 18th and 19th centuries. zoology became an increasingly professional scientific discipline.  Explorer-naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt investigated the interaction between organisms and their environment, and the ways this relationship depends on geography, laying the foundations for biogeography, ecology and ethology.  Naturalists began to reject esssentialism and consider the importance of extinction and the mutability of species.  Cell theory provided a new perspective on the fundamental basis if life.

These developments. as well as the results from embryology and paleontology, were synthesized in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.  In 1859, Darwin placed the theory of organic evolution on a new footing, by his discovery of a process by which organic evolution can occur, and provided observational evidence that it had done so.

Darwin gave a new direction to morphology and physiology, by uniting them in a common biological theory:  the theory of organic evolution.  The result was a reconstruction of the classification of animals upon a genealogical basis, fresh investigation of the development of animals, and early attempts to determine their genetic relationships.  The end of the 19th century saw the fall of spontaneous generation and the rise of the germ theory of disease, though the mechanism of inheritance remained a mystery.  In the early 20th century, the rediscovery of Mendel's work led to the rapid development of genetics by Thomas Hunt Morgan and his students, and by the 1930s the combination of population genetics and natural selection in the "neo-Darwinian synthesis"

There are many aspects of zoology: structural, physiological, evolutionary, systematics and ethology so far to much to add on here.  The various branches of zoology include comparative anatomy, animal physiology, behavioural ecology, ethology, invertebrata, vertebrata, comparative zoology and taxonomics such as mammalogy, herpetology, ornithology and entomology and there are also many other related fields.

It wasn't until I decided to do the A-Z of animals that I began to realise how interesting a science zoology is and I sit back now and think that had I known about this wonderful science perhaps I would have decided to go to university instead of wanting to get out into the big world of commerce as a shorthand typist.  What are the words of that song?  "If I had my life to live over!"  Nothing like being wise in hindsight is there.

Perhaps you thought I would make Z for Zebra but I felt that most people know quite a lot about that animal so I decided to expound a little on the science that has been involved in making available the scanty information I've been able to put on my blog.  Hope you enjoyed most of it, especially some of our special Aussie animals such as the platypus, wombat, wallaby, quokka etc.  Thank you for sharing it with me.


  1. It has been a treat for me Mimsie. Thank you. I have learned things and been able to oooh and aaah over animals - something I love doing.

  2. Thank you for sticking with me through the whole series and I am so glad you enjoyed it. I know that, like me, you are a lover and admirer of all the special creatures we have (and have had) on this beautiful planet of ours and mourn the loss of so many. I have decided to begin a bird A-Z series so will be interesting to see if that turns out well. I will concentrate on Aussie birds when and if I can. Thanks too for your compliments through this journey. I only hope that much of the information I gave was reasonably accurate. I used various websites and sources and you hope you can rely on them to be correct.

  3. Congrats on getting to Z (again). A very informative and interesting series.