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1839 Zoology F8.jpg

Zoology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of animals. The most common pronunciation of "zoology" is zoʊˈɑləʤɪ/; however, an alternative pronunciation is /zuˈɑləʤɪ/.[1] Zoology is the branch of life science that focuses on the structure, function, behavior, and evolution of animals.

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 travelers and writers comprise 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 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 and limitation. This study also includes the study of human beings in the environment which eventually branch off into psychology.

Subfields of zoology

The study of animal life is ancient: but as 'zoology' it is relatively modern, for what we call biology was known as 'natural history' at the start of the nineteenth century. During the lifetime of Charles Darwin, natural history turned from a gentlemanly pursuit to a modern scientific activity. Zoology as we know it was first established in German and British universities. The institution of zoology training in British universities was mainly established by Thomas Henry Huxley. His ideas were centered on the morphology of animals: he himself is considered by many to have been the greatest comparative anatomist of the second half of the nineteenth century. His courses were composed of lectures and laboratory practical classes; and his system became widely spread.

There was much left out by Huxley, especially the study of animals in their environment, which had been the main stimulus for both Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace (who both came up with the idea of natural selection). The fact that neither Darwin nor Wallace ever held a university teaching post may have contributed to this rather startling omission. Gradually Huxley's comparative anatomy was supplemented by other much-needed methods. The field of zoology in the twentieth century mainly comprised these approaches:

  1. Zoography, also known as descriptive zoology, is the applied science of describing animals and their habitats.
  2. Comparative anatomy studies the structure of animals.
  3. The physiology of animals is studied under various fields including anatomy and embryology
  4. The common genetic and developmental mechanisms of animals and plants is studied in molecular biology, molecular genetics and developmental biology
  5. Ethology is the study of animal behavior.
  6. The ecology of animals is covered under behavioral ecology and other fields
  7. Evolutionary biology of both animals and plants is considered in the articles on evolution, population genetics, heredity, variation, Mendelism, reproduction.
  8. Systematics, cladistics, phylogenetics, phylogeography, biogeography and taxonomy classify and group species via common descent and regional associations.
  9. The various taxonomically-oriented disciplines such as mammalogy, herpetology, ornithology identify and classify species, and study the structures and mechanisms specific to those groups. Entomology is the study of insects, by far the largest group of animals.
  10. Palaeontology, including all that may be learnt of ancient environments.