Many people think of zoology as a single career field, but it actually encompasses a number of related sub-disciplines as well.
The branches of zoology have grown out of a single field that has been evolving for centuries. At its core, zoology is the study of animals, and it dates back to ancient times, to the works of Galen and even Aristotle.
Others continued the zoological sciences through the Middle ages and into European Renaissance, as men have been continually fascinated by the creatures that inhabit the Earth.
The branches of zoology really began to splinter off from the main trunk after the invention of the microscope revealed to scientists a whole new world of microorganisms. Another important development was the study of the fossil record, as sceintists began to understand the diversity of life and how it evolved over the span of time.
Then, in the 18th and 19th centuries, zoology split into ever more specialized branches of study. Zoological investigation soon included: physiology, ecology, ethology, anatomy, histology, and embryology. One of the recognized pioneers of modern zoology was the British scientist Thomas Henry Huxley.
Huxley’s body of work was grounded in the idea of the morphology of animals. He also pioneered university courses where laboratory work was combined with lectures, whereas previously classes had been lectures only. This increased the effectiveness of the course tremendously, this format eventually became the standard in universities all over the world.
Another pioneer in modern zoology, and the branches of zoology, was of course Charles Darwin. Darwin was the first person to take the knowledge gained from cell theory, and paleontology, and even embryology, and combine them into this theory of evolution by natural selection.
Controversial as it is, his theory broke new ground in our understanding of how life developed and evolved over the course of the Earth’s history.
Since Darwin’s time, the branches of zoology have expanded to include the following sub-disciplines:
- Animal physiology, which has many subcategories of its own.
- Zoography, which is the study of animals and the habitats in which they live.
- Comparative anatomy, which is the study of the structure of animals.
- Ethology, which studies animal behavior.
- Evolutionary biology, which studies the evolution of species, both plants and animals, using the fossil record, genetics, reproduction, and heredity.
- Molecular biology, which studies the developmental and genetic mechanisms in plants and animals.
- Behavioral ecology
Visit the best colleges for zoology page for more information on getting a degree in this challenging and rewarding career field.