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…