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What is Zoology?

Last Updated : 22 Nov, 2023
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Zoology can be easily defined as the study of animals. Zoology includes all the members of the kingdom Animalia. Zoology encompasses the study of the classification, anatomy, physiology, behavior, and ecology of animals. Zoology explores all the details of the diverse animal kingdom, from invertebrates to vertebrates. The study of zoology significantly contributes to the understanding of the animal diversity. The study of zoology also provides a wide range of career options other than the vast amount of knowledge about the animals around us. 


Meaning of Zoology

The word zoology originated from two ancient Greek words “zoion” meaning “animal” and “logia” meaning “the study of”. Therefore the word literally means “the study of animals”. Zoology can be defined as the branch of biology that deals with the study of the fascinating world of animal biology and their various aspects. Zoology includes the identification, systematic classification, and exploration of the diverse physiology, and the complex ecological interaction of the members of the animal kingdom. 

History of Zoology

Identification and study of animals around us has been a part of human civilization since its start. The ancient civilization of India, China, Egypt, Greece, etc has always been fascinated by the animal kingdom and we can see many descriptions and use of animals in the scripture. However, extensive modern scientific studies were undertaken and documented by many prominent scientists and philosophers which led to our current understanding of zoology. Some such scientists are listed below;

  1. Aristotle (384-322 BC): He is often considered the father of zoology due to his significant work on the classification and characterization of animals.
  2. Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778): His work on taxonomy and classification laid the foundation of the current pretext of zoology. 
  3. Georges Cuvier(1769-1832): His work on paleontology and comparative anatomy of animals greatly contributed to the understanding of zoology.
  4. Charles Darwin (1809-1882): Other than his work on evolution, his research on the Galapagos island also contributed significantly to zoological studies.
  5. Thomas Huxley (1825-1895): His work on Darwin’s theory of evolution also contributed greatly to the field of comparative anatomy of animals.
  6. Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989): His work on animal behavior has a significant impact on the understanding of zoology.
  7. E. O. Wilson (1929-2021): His work on biodiversity and sociobiology greatly contributed to our current understanding of ecology. 

Branches of Zoology

Zoology is a vast and diverse field of biology having many major and minor branches. Some of them are listed below;

  1. Anatomy: The study of the internal and external structures of animals is called anatomy.
  2. Physiology: The study of the mechanisms that underlie various bodily functions is called physiology.
  3. Ecology: The study of interactions between animals and their environment is called ecology.
  4. Ethology: The study of animal-specific behavior is called ethology.
  5. Taxonomy: The study of classification and naming of animals is called taxonomy.
  6. Evolutionary Biology: The study of the evolutionary history of animals is called evolutionary biology.
  7. Entomology: The study of insects is called entomology.
  8. Herpetology: The study of amphibians and reptiles is called herpetology.
  9. Ornithology: The study of birds is called ornithology.
  10. Ichthyology: The study of fish is called ichthyology.
  11. Mammalogy: The study of mammals is called mammalogy.

Scope of Zoology

Zoology has a wide range of scopes, some of which are listed below;

  1. Understanding of animal biology, behavior, and ecology as a research scientist.
  2. Study and manage wildlife populations as a wildlife biologist.
  3. As a zoological educator in organizations and institutions.
  4. Caring, managing, and overseeing animals in the zoo as a zoo curator.
  5. The study of marine and freshwater ecosystems as aquatic biologists.
  6. As an environmental consultant assess the impact of human activities on wildlife and ecosystems.
  7. As a conservation biologist to protect and preserve the ecosystems.
  8. To provide medical care for animals, both domestic and wild as a veterinarian.

Importance of Zoology

The study of zoology is very significant for the understanding of the living world. Some common reasons to study zoology are listed below;

  1. To study and conserve the world’s diverse animal species.
  2. The understanding of animal interactions and their role within the ecosystem is crucial for maintaining the ecosystem.
  3. To achieve important medical breakthroughs.
  4. Pest management, livestock improvement, contribution to food security, etc. can be achieved with the knowledge and understanding of zoology.
  5. Knowledge of zoology will help to promote the welfare of domestic and wild animals.
  6. To assess the impact of human activities on wildlife and ecosystems.
  7. The study of zoology contributes to economic sectors such as ecotourism, wildlife management, etc. creating jobs and revenue.
  8. Global awareness and cooperation for environmental conservation can also be achieved.

Who is a Zoologist?

A zoologist is a biologist or scientist who specializes in the study and understanding of animals. They specialize in various aspects of the animal kingdom, including their biology, behavior, classification, physiology, and ecology. They investigate and study animal species from simple or primitive invertebrates to complex vertebrates. They conduct research to answer questions about animal life, behavior, evolution, and interactions with their environments.

How to Become a Zoologist?

To become a zoologist in India one has to complete high school with physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics (optional). Then they have to pursue a Bachelor of Science in zoology or a related field. After that a Master’s degree (M.Sc.) in Zoology or a related field. A Ph.D. in Zoology is optional. However, it is important to participate in internships, research projects, and fieldwork to gain practical knowledge in zoology.

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FAQs – What is Zoology?

1. What is the Study of Zoology?

The study of various aspects of all members of the animal kingdom like their structure, classification, behavior, and interaction is called zoology.  

2. Why is it Called Zoology?

The word zoology originated from two ancient Greek words “zoion” meaning “animal” and “logia” meaning “the study of”. Therefore the word literally means “the study of animals”.

3. Who is the Father of Zoology?

Aristotle (384-322 BC) is often considered the father of zoology due to his significant work on the classification and characterization of animals.

4. Why is Zoology Important?

Zoology is important because it helps us to understand the various aspects of animal kingdoms like their name, classification, body organization, behavior, habit, habitat, etc.

5. What is the Scope of Zoology?

The scope of zoology is very broad becoming research scientists, wildlife biologists, zoological educators, zoo curators, animal behaviorists, etc. 

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