Zoology Essay

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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
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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
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