views updated Jun 27 2018


ZOOLOGY. For much of the sixteenth century, as in earlier periods, animals were valued for use or for their symbolic or allegorical meaning. Medieval bestiaries, based on the Natural History of Pliny and the encyclopedic works of such early church fathers as Isidore of Seville, mingled naturalistic description, uses, and symbolic significance in their accounts of animals, and did not clearly demarcate real from mythological beasts. Conrad Gessner's Historia Animalium (Description of animals) of 1551, the era's most comprehensive text on animals, continued this mode of description, still evident fifty years later in Edward Topsell's revised translation, A History of Four-Footed Beastes (1607). Animals were classified in hierarchical terms centered on the notion of the great chain of being. However, the voyages of discovery and the intellectual changes associated with the scientific revolution began to strip away the layers of symbol and allegory from animals and made them objects of study in themselves.

Animals had been used as surrogates for humans in the training of physicians and surgeons since the twelfth century. Even after human dissection began to be practiced in the fourteenth century, medical schools continued to use animals, especially pigs, dogs, and cats, to teach human anatomy by means of both dissection and vivisection. The beginnings of comparative anatomy are usually dated to the appearance in 1551 of Pierre Belon's (15171564) work on the anatomy of cetaceans, soon followed by his comparison of a human skeleton to that of a bird (1555). Volker Coiter (15341576) established comparative anatomy as an autonomous field of study in the 1570s, and while animals continued to function as human proxies, numerous works appeared on animal anatomy and physiology as well.

Exotic animals were a form of diplomatic exchange dating back to Roman times. Medieval monarchs established menageries such as that at the Tower of London, which during the sixteenth century included lions, leopards, a tiger, a lynx, an eagle, and a porcupine. Animals in menageries were often used for sport in the form of animal combats or baiting. Louis XIV of France established a menagerie at his palace at Versailles; when the animals died, they were dissected before the Paris Academy of Sciences, and many of them were described in Claude Perrault's (16131688) Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des animaux (16711676; Memoirs for a natural history of animals). After death, these animals graced natural history cabinets (among which Gessner's was famous), which also included plants, antiquities, minerals, and curiosities. These predecessors of the modern natural history museum attempted to make sense of a rapidly expanding world by means of analogies, etymologies, and seemingly odd juxtapositions and also served important social and cultural roles in an aristocratic society based on status and patronage.

The work of Perrault's team and others such as Edward Tyson (16511708) made great strides in comparative anatomy. However, the main use of animals in science from the end of the sixteenth century onward was to demonstrate aspects of human (and animal) anatomy and physiology, for instruction and especially for research. William Harvey (15781657) demonstrated the circulation of the blood, published in 1628, by means of hundreds of experiments on live animals ranging from fish to dogs. Experimenters in universities and academies all over Europe embraced Harvey's experimental techniques, which included injection and inflation as well as vivisection. Notable examples included the work of Marcello Malpighi (16281694) on the structure of the lungs and the capillary circulation, Robert Hooke (16351704) on the process of respiration, Regnier de Graaf (16411673) on the glands, and Nicolaus Steno (16381686) on the structure of the muscles. Hooke and Robert Boyle (16271691) placed small animals in a vacuum pump of their design and demonstrated the body's need for fresh air to sustain life. Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (16321723) revealed the possibilities of the microscope, also used successfully by Malpighi and Hooke.

Most seventeenth-century natural philosophers regarded animals as machines, although few went as far as René Descartes (15961650) in denying their mental capacity to experience pain. Vitalist philosophies revived in the eighteenth century, although the mechanical philosophy continued to influence views of animal function. The work of Stephen Hales (16711767) on blood pressure was mechanistic, but by mid-century, Albrecht von Haller (17081777) exemplified the new emphasis on vital function with his work on the sensibility and irritability of the nerves. At the beginning of his 1752 treatise on this topic, Haller also displayed a new sensibility toward animals when he apologized for causing them pain.

By the end of the seventeenth century, concepts of classification had reached a crisis. The seemingly chaotic organization of cabinets and collections reflected a lack of consensus on classification schemes. The great influx of animals from the New World and other areas disrupted the old notion of a chain of being that was both full and complete, but there was little agreement about what might be a proper criterion for classification. Although Aristotle had attempted to establish a natural system of classification based on essential features and natural affinities, he also believed in a natural hierarchy. Various theories of plant classification multiplied, but the classification of animals lagged behind. At the end of the seventeenth century, John Ray (16271705) attempted a natural classification of animals, but its complexity did not bode well for future endeavors. In 1735, Carl Linnaeus (17071778) described a classification of plants based on sexual parts in his Systema Naturae (System of nature), which also presented a scheme for classifying animals, organizing them in six broad classes. In the 1779 edition of Systema Naturae, he described nearly six thousand species of animals. His system was artificial, aimed at establishing order rather than reproducing nature's plan, and its use of the binomial nomenclature was widely adopted.

Linnaeus's system of classification was challenged by Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon (17071788), whose Histoire naturelle (17491788; Natural history) was the most comprehensive (and best-known) work on natural history in the eighteenth century. Buffon argued that any system of classification was by definition arbitrary and artificial, and that reality resided in individuals, not in species. While he modified his views over the course of his life, adopting many Linnaean categories, Buffon is especially important for introducing the concept of time into the discussion of taxonomy, finding variability of species over time but constancy of form at higher taxonomic levels.

By the end of the eighteenth century, animals had lost much of their earlier symbolic meaning. But in both laboratories and natural history museums they were, more than ever, objects of scientific scrutiny.

See also Academies, Learned ; Biology ; Botany ; Boyle, Robert ; Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc ; Descartes, René ; Harvey, William ; Hooke, Robert ; Leeuwenhoek, Antoni van ; Linnaeus, Carl ; Louis XIV (France) ; Malpighi, Marcello ; Medicine ; Natural History ; Ray, John ; Scientific Instruments ; Scientific Method ; Scientific Revolution .


Cole, F. J. A History of Comparative Anatomy from Aristotle to the Eighteenth Century. New York, 1975.

Findlen, Paula. Possessing Nature. Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy. Berkeley,1994.

George, Wilma. "Sources and Background to Discoveries of New Animals in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries." History of Science 18 (1980): 79104.

Guerrini, Anita. "The Ethics of Animal Experimentation in Seventeenth-Century England." Journal of the History of Ideas 50, no. 3 (1989): 391407.

Larson, James L. Reason and Experience. The Representation of Natural Order in the Work of Carl von Linné. Berkeley, 1971.

Anita Guerrini


views updated May 18 2018


ZOOLOGY. Zoology is the area of systematic biology that studies the animal kingdom. Systematic biology (or just systematics) is "the scientific study of the kinds and diversity of organisms" (Simpson, p. 7). The animal kingdom is one of at least five kingdoms into which organisms are now divided; the others are plants, fungi, protoctists, and bacteria. The last two kingdoms comprise only unicellular organisms: protoctists include all unicellular organisms formerly considered animals, among them amoebas and paramecia, as well as several types of unicellular algae; bacteria are unicellular organisms lacking a differentiated cellular nucleus. Animals and plants are multicellular organisms, but plants have cell walls and animals do not. Fungi may be unicellular or multicellular, but do not develop through embryological stages, as do plants and animals. Therefore, animals may be loosely defined as multicellular organisms that lack cell walls, but develop through embryological stages.

Zoology is divided into different fields: mammalogy (the study of mammals), ornithology (birds), herpetology (reptiles and amphibians), ichthyology (fish), entomology (insects), malacology (mollusks, from snails with and without shells to squids and octopuses), and helmintology (worms, from earthworms to flatworms), among others. Zoologists usually specialize in the study of only one group or of closely related groups of animals. If a zoologist specializes in extinct animals, of which only fossil remains are known, he is called a paleozoologist (the term paleontologist includes the paleobotanists, who study plant fossils). Zoogeography is a special field of zoology that studies the geographical distribution of animals and is closely linked with research on the evolution of animal species.


One of zoology's main purposes is to identify all animals through classification. Classification is accomplished by comparing the characters, or features, of groups of animals. These characters may be of very different nature: morphological characters refer mainly to body structures, whereas histological and cytological characters are those of body tissues and cells, respectively. The number and forms of the chromosomes (karyology) are also considered a distinctive feature, but methods of DNA complementation ("molecular systematics") are being used increasingly. The presence, absence, or even the structure of certain biochemical compounds are used as characters. Certain physiological functions (for example, temperature regulation) are also considered in classification.

The rules and procedures for classification constitute a division of zoology called animal taxonomy. Various opinions about whether characters should be differentially weighed (i.e., some characters should be considered more important than others), and on how they should be weighed have been voiced since the eighteenth century. Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), the founder of modern taxonomy, maintained that characters should be weighed according to their functional value, whereas Michel Adanson, a French naturalist, thought they should be arbitrarily selected.

Modern classification has relied mostly on weighed characters; however, in the twentieth century insect taxonomists began using quantitative (numerical and graphic) methods, bringing about new debate on this matter. The tendency now called phenetics, initiated by Russian taxonomist E. S. Smirnov in the 1920s, proposed methods for comparing unweighed characters to determine overall similarity, whereas another tendency, now known as cladism, developed by the German zoologist Willi Hennig in the 1950s, insisted on weighing characters according to their evolutionary importance. In the 1970s and 1980s, discussions took place in the United States between the supporters of both. As a result of this debate, numerical methods (which allow for the use of computers) were perfected; this brought about a certain degree of compromise between the differing quantitative approaches, but not between the underlying philosophies. The use of cladistic criteria, however, seems to have prevailed.

Characters and Conservation

Characters used for classification are generally determined in laboratories and natural history cabinets, but other features can only be studied in the field. Captive animals are not usually reliable when studies of behavior (ethology) or of relations between animal populations and their environment (ecology) are intended. Field studies are an important part of zoological research. Although they do contribute to classification, they also stand by themselves as a valuable source of information for species conservation. The only true way to preserve a species is within its own typical habitat (i.e., the natural conditions in which it lives).

By using an array of characters, many previously undescribed species are discovered every year. In their research, zoologists often go further than mere classification, contributing to a better understanding of biological processes and discovering previously unknown qualities of animals. For example, a collateral result of the study of insect pheromones (hormones that attract the opposite sex) was the use of some compounds in pest control that, unlike traditional insecticides, do not contaminate the environment. Research on sounds produced by certain dangerous or obnoxious animals have also served to devise methods to repel them without damaging the environment.

Writings, Collections, Natural History Museums

Many zoological works published during the nineteenth century included full portraits of the species described, especially of colorful birds, butterflies, and shells. The lavishly illustrated books of the American ornithologist John James Audubon (1785–1851) are among the most famous. Most zoological publications, however, do not include artistic portraits of the species they study, but do have drawings of some details of their morphology, as well as precise written descriptions. The animal specimens on which such descriptions are based are deposited in specialized collections, most of which are kept in natural history museums. The first zoological museum in America was established by Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827); it opened at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, in 1786. Peale's museum eventually incorporated many specimens collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804– 1806).

Natural history museums in the nineteenth century were generally created by societies of naturalists to house the collections of their members. These collections were considerably enlarged through the efforts of hired collectors and the purchase of private collections. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (1812) and the Lyceum of Natural History of New York (1817) were among the first societies to create museums. The Academy has remained an important institution to this day, while the Lyceum was one of the predecessors of the American Museum of Natural History (1869). The Boston Society of Natural History (1830) and the Academy of Science of St. Louis (1856) also established museums. The Museum of Comparative Zoology (1859), created at Harvard University by Swiss-born ichthyologist and geologist Louis Agassiz (1807–1873), was one of the first American zoological museums to gain international recognition.

The Smithsonian Institution, established in 1846 in Washington, D.C., accumulated large collections of animals and benefited from the collecting activities of several government-sponsored expeditions, such as the Wilkes Expedition to the Pacific (1838–1842) and the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey (1848). Under its assistant secretary (and later secretary), ornithologist Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823–1887), the Smithsonian became one of the largest repositories of zoological collections in the world.

With the creation of land grant colleges and new universities in the last half of the nineteenth century, zoological research extended to all states. Many universities established their own zoological or natural history museums. In addition, some American philanthropists promoted the foundation of such museums. The Peabody Museum at Yale University, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Field Museum in Chicago are among the best known.

American Zoologists

Thomas Say (1787–1834), sometimes called "the father of American entomology," and Joseph Leidy (1823–1891), probably the first American paleozoologist, were early outstanding zoologists in the United States. Other wellknown zoologists include Joel Asaph Allen (1838–1921), a specialist in mammals and birds, and one of the founders of the Audubon Society; Thomas Barbour (1884–1946), the herpetologist and ornithologist who developed zoological research at the first American tropical-research stations in Cuba and Panama; and Alexander Wetmore (1886–1978), who specialized in the study of birds from Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Other American zoologists contributed greatly to knowledge of extinct forms of life. Othniel Charles Marsh (1831–1899), whose reconstruction of the evolution of horses became the standard illustration in biological textbooks during the twentieth century, and Edward Drinker Cope (1840–1897), author of a peculiar version of the evolutionary theory, were competitors in the search for dinosaur fossils. Between them they discovered and described more than 100 new species of dinosaurs. Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857–1935) reconstructed the phylogeny of elephants among many contributions to paleozoology. A specialist in fossil mammals, William Diller Matthew (1871–1930) wrote Climate and Evolution (1915), arguing against explaining animal distribution only in terms of connections between land masses. Although many ideas put forward by these researchers have been revised or even rejected, their work contributed significantly to the general advancement of zoology and paleontology.

Some zoologists wrote very influential books: Philip Jackson Darlington (1904–1983), an entomologist, published a widely read Zoogeography (1957); and Libbie Henrietta Hyman (1888–1969) published a six-volume monograph, The Invertebrates (1940–1967), that remains the standard reference work. The best known American women zoologists are, undoubtedly, Rachel Louise Carson (1907–1964), the author of one of the most influential books published during the twentieth century, Silent Spring (1962); and Dian Fossey (1932–1985), who wrote Gorillas in the Mist (1983), about her experiences studying gorillas in Central Africa.

Zoologist and geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900–1975); ornithologist Ernst Mayr (1904–) and mammalogist and paleozoologist George Gaylord Simpson (1902–1984) are among the developers of the contemporary version of Darwin's evolutionary theory, known as the "synthetic theory of evolution" (it "synthesizes" systematics, genetics, ecology, and paleontology). Their three great books Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937), Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942), and Tempo and Mode in Evolution (1944), respectively, have become classics of twentieth-century biological literature. Simpson's The Meaning of Evolution (1949), a popular presentation of the synthetic theory, was widely read in the United States and translated into several languages.

Perhaps the best known contemporary American zoologists are Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002), a paleozoologist, author of many books and articles on the history of zoology, and one of the creators of the evolutionary theory of "punctuated equilibrium," and Edward Osborne Wilson (b. 1929), an ant specialist and an active promoter of conservationist policies and attitudes, as well as the author of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975).


Barrow, Mark V., Jr. A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Birney, Elmer C., and Jerry Choate, eds. Seventy-five Years of Mammalogy (1919–1994). Provo, Utah: The American Society of Mammalogists, 1994.

Dupree, A. Hunter. Science in the Federal Government: A History of Politics and Activities to 1940. Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press, 1957.

Gould, Stephen Jay. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. New York and London: Norton, 1989.

Hull, David L. Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. The whole book is practically a case study of the debate between pheneticists and cladists.

Mallis, Arnold. American Entomologists. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1971.

Margulis, Lynn, and Karlene V. Schwartz. Five Kingdoms. An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth. New York: W.H. Freeman, 1988.

Meisel, Max. A Bibliography of American Natural History. The Pioneer Century, 1769–1865. Vols. 2 and 3. New York: Premier Publishing, 1926, 1929.

Reingold, Nathan, ed. Science in America since 1820. New York: Science History Publications, 1976.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Principles of Animal Taxonomy. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961.

Wilson, E. O., ed. Biodiversity. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988.

Pedro M. PrunaGoodgall

See alsoAudubon Society ; Conservation ; Environmental Movement ; Evolutionism ; Marine Biology ; Wildlife Preservation ; andarticles on individual branches of zoology.


views updated Jun 27 2018


Education and Training: Doctoral degree

Salary: Median—$50,330 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Zoologists are biological scientists who study animals. They observe animals both in their natural habitats and in the laboratory in order to learn as much as possible about animal life. Zoologists study the origin and development of animal species, the habits and behavior of animals, and the interaction between animals and their environment. They also do research to learn how animal diseases develop and how traits are passed from generation to generation.

Zoologists are sometimes known as animal scientists or animal biologists. Their field is zoology, or animal biology. Like botany and microbiology, zoology is a major division of biology. Zoology is a broad field. It includes the study of animals as varied as elephants, kangaroos, and killer sharks. Zoologists work in all areas of animal life, studying both simple and complex processes. For example, a zoologist might examine the overall structure of a cat or just the microscopic cells in its brain. Zoologists study the life functions of a single animal, such as an insect, as well as the behavior of whole colonies of ants, flocks of birds, or bands of gorillas.

Most zoologists are employed by colleges and universities where they teach and do research. Large numbers of zoologists work for government agencies in such areas as wildlife management, conservation, and agriculture. A few work for private companies, such as pharmaceutical companies or biological supply houses that sell animal specimens to laboratories. Some zoologists are employed by museums and zoos.

Although their jobs may differ widely, most zoologists spend at least part of their time doing research or laboratory work. They dissect and examine animal specimens. They prepare slides so that they can observe such things as diseased tissue and chemical reactions under light or electron microscopes. Since they often perform experiments with animals, many zoologists keep laboratory animals, such as mice, fruit flies, and guinea pigs. They may breed these animals, raise their offspring under controlled conditions, or test the effects of drugs on them. Some zoologists observe animals in their natural habitats. These zoologists study mating practices, aggression, life histories, and the group behavior of animals. Zoologists may make use of computerized information as well as a wide variety of special laboratory equipment and scientific methods. They are sometimes assisted by biological technicians.

Zoologists often specialize in the study of one group of animals. For example, ichthyologists concentrate on the fish family. Some ichthyologists provide basic knowledge about fish. They classify fish according to species and study their distribution, size, and growth. They also study the behavior of fish, including migration patterns and feeding habits. Some specialize in one group of fish, such as sharks. Others work with one aspect of fish, such as their anatomy. Ichthyologists serve as fish experts on museum staffs or sometimes write books on the identification of fish. Most teach and do research in colleges and universities. Other zoologists working with fish concentrate on fish that have economic or recreational uses. These scientists are often called fishery biologists. They may work with trout in state fish hatcheries or do research on fish that have commercial uses, such as tuna, cod, or salmon. Zoologists also specialize in other groups of animals. Herpetologists, for example, are experts on reptiles, frogs, and salamanders. Entomologists study insects.

Some zoologists specialize in one area of animal life that may cover many species. Animal taxonomists, for example, identify and classify the many different species of animals. Animal physiologists examine the life processes of animals. They do research on their growth, movement, reproduction, respiration, circulation, and other functions. They also study how the environment of animals affects their life processes and functions. Embryologists focus on the early growth of animals from their beginning as a fertilized cell to their birth or hatching. There are many other kinds of zoologists.

Education and Training Requirements

You generally need a doctoral degree to become a zoologist. You should major in zoology or biology as an undergraduate. In graduate school, you may want to specialize in genetics, embryology, or another area in animal science. Graduates with a bachelor's degree can get some jobs, such as advanced biological technician, but their opportunities for advancement are limited. People who have earned a master's degree in zoology or a related field are qualified for some jobs as teachers or research assistants. You usually need a doctoral degree, however, to get a job teaching and doing research at a university or working as an administrator. It usually takes four years to earn a bachelor's degree and another one or two years to earn a master's degree. You need to go to school for an additional two or three years to receive a doctoral degree. In order to keep up with new developments in animal science, you should continue to study throughout your career.

Getting the Job

Your professors or college placement office may be able to help you find a job in zoology. You can apply directly to colleges and universities, zoos, and museums or private companies. You can also check with government agencies about getting work in research, conservation, inspection, management, or another special area. You sometimes need to pass a civil service examination to get a government job. Other sources of job openings include the classified ads in newspapers and professional journals.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement opportunities are good, especially for zoologists who have a doctoral degree. Zoologists can become project leaders or research directors. Those who work in zoos and museums can become administrators or head curators. Zoologists working for the government can advance to such positions as head of a state fishery or national wildlife refuge. Zoologists employed in colleges and universities can advance to the rank of full professor. Another way that a zoologist can advance is by becoming recognized as an authority in one area of animal science. This kind of recognition generally comes to zoologists who have done important research and have published their findings in professional journals.

Employment of biological scientists in general is projected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations through 2014. There will continue to be demand for zoologists, but opportunities will be limited because of the small size of this field. However, due to public interest in preserving the environment and protecting many species of animals, federal and state governments are devoting more funds to research in animal science. The work of zoologists is also important in finding cures for diseases and improving food supplies. There will probably be openings for trained experts who can contribute to the solution of such problems. Competition for jobs teaching in universities, however, is expected to be keen.

Working Conditions

The working conditions of zoologists vary widely. Some zoologists spend much of their time in clean, well-lighted, well-equipped laboratories. Others work outdoors, observing wildlife and perhaps making do with improvised equipment. Many zoologists spend some of their time in offices and classrooms. Their working hours are generally flexible but often total more than forty hours per week. Some experiments and projects need to be observed around the clock. Therefore, zoologists may work rotating shifts. Zoologists often spend extra time attending meetings, writing up their findings, or reading to learn about the findings of other scientists.

Zoologists sometimes work independently. At other times they work as part of a scientific team. They must be able to cooperate with and communicate their ideas to other people. They should also be interested in animals and willing to spend many hours working with them or doing research on them. They need to use careful, precise methods in their work.

Where to Go for More Information

American Institute of Biological Sciences
1444 I St. NW, Ste. 200
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 628-1500

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
1313 Dolley Madison Blvd., Ste. 402
McLean, VA 22101
(800) 955-1236

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings for zoologists depend on their education and experience, as well as the location and the kind of job. In 2004 the median annual income of zoologists was $50,330. In 2005 zoologists who worked for the federal government in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions earned an average salary of $101,601. Benefits generally include paid holidays and vacations, insurance, and retirement plans.


views updated May 29 2018

430. Zoology

See also 16. ANIMALS ; 44. BIOLOGY ; 45. BIRDS ; 61. BULLS and BULLFIGHTING ; 64. BUTTERFLIES ; 70. CATS ; 88. COCKS ; 125. DOGS ; 164. FISH ; 211. HORSES ; 225. INSECTS ; 302. ORGANISMS ; 353. REPTILES ; 374. SNAKES ; 423. WOLVES ; 427. WORMS .

a division of zoology that studies mites and ticks. acarologist , n.
the branch of zoology that studies amphibians. amphibiological , adj.
a branch of zoology that studies spiders and other arachnids. Also called arachnidology, araneology . arachnologist , n.
the branch of zoology that studies crustaceans. carcinologist , n.
the study of whales. cetologist , n.
the state or condition of being united by growth. coadunate , adj.
the branch of zoology that studies scales, mealy bugs, and other members of the family Coccidea.
the branch of zoology that studies the shells of mollusks. Also called malacology . conchologist , n. conchological , adj.
the branch of zoology that studies crustaceans.
the branch of zoology that studies the dog, especially its natural history.
the branch of zoology that studies echinoderms.
the study of insects. entomologist , n. entomologie , entomological, adj.
development of an organism or form of animal life in which body segmentation is complete before hatching. epimorphic , adj.
estivation, aestivation
the practice of certain animals of sleeping throughout the summer. Cf. hibernation .
reproduction by budding. See also 54. BOTANY .
the practice of certain animals of sleeping throughout the winter. Cf. estivation .
the state or quality of being invertebrate or without a backbone, as certain organisms, animals, etc; hence, spinelessness; exhibiting a lack of strength of character. invertebrate , adj.
the branch of entomology that studies butterflies. lepidopterologist, lepidopterist , n.
conchology. malacologist , n.
the branch of zoology that studies mammals. mammalogist , n.
a change or succession of changes in form during the life cycle of an animal, allowing it to adapt to different environmental conditions, as a caterpillar into a butterfly.
the branch of zoology that studies birds. ornithologist , n.
paleomammalogy, palaeomammalogy
the branch of zoology that studies the mammals of past geologic ages.
selective breeding to develop strains with particular characteristics. stirpicultural , adj.
a system of naming things, as plants or animals. taxonomist , n. taxonomie , adj.
pl. animals whose young are bom live, as mammals. viviparity , n. viviparous , adj.
1. the study of the geographical distribution of animals.
2. the study of the causes, effects, and other relations involved in such distributions. zoogeographer , n.
zoonomy, zoonomia
the laws of animal life or the animal kingdom. zoonomist , n. zoonomic , adj.
the study or science of the diseases of animals; animal pathology. Also zoopathy.
the physiology of animals, as distinct from that of humans.
the branch of zoology concerned with the zoophytes. zoophytological , adj.
zoological classification; the scientific classification of animals.


views updated May 14 2018


Zoology is a branch of biology that involves the study of animals. Zoology is a very broad field; zoologists study subjects ranging from single-celled organisms to the behavior of groups of animals. Some zoologists study the biology of a particular animal, others study the structure and function of the bodies of animals. Some zoologists are interested in heredity , how the characteristics of animals are passed from one generation to the next. Others study the way animals interact with other animals or their surrounding environment. Many zoologists are classified by the animal they study. For example, herpetologists study reptiles and amphibians. Entomologists specialize in insects. Ornithologists study birds. Mammalogists specialize in mammals.

Many zoologists are involved in research and development. Some conduct basic research to expand knowledge about animals. Others may conduct applied research, which is used to directly benefit humans. Applied research may be used to develop new medicines, make livestock more resistant to disease, control pests, or help the environment. Researchers may be employed at universities, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, scientific institutions, or private industries. Many zoologists work at zoos, aquariums, and museums. Research can involve fieldwork, laboratory work, and writing up the results for publication. Most zoologists spend only two to eight weeks in the field each year. Junior scientists spend more time in the field than senior scientists, observing animals and collecting data. Senior scientists spend much of their time coordinating research, overseeing junior staff, and writing grant proposals, or obtaining funds in some other way. Zoologists involved in research need at least a bachelor's degree. Advanced degrees (master's and Ph.D.) can also be very helpful.

The following types of companies/organizations may employ zoologists:

  • animal hospitals
  • pet stores
  • food companies
  • biotechnology firms
  • humane societies
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • chemical companies
  • medical laboratories
  • clinics/hospitals
  • research laboratories
  • veterinarian schools
  • national parks
  • dog-training schools
  • natural history museums
  • environmental companies
  • veterinarian-supply houses
  • pest-control agencies
  • government agencies

Some zoologists are primarily teachers. They can teach at the high-school level or at the university/college level. Teaching at the high-school level requires a bachelor's degree and state certification. Teaching at the university level generally requires a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree.

At the high-school level, persons interested in becoming zoologists should study mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, English, writing, and computer studies. In college, persons obtaining a bachelor's degree in zoology will study these same types of subjects. In graduate school, a student specializes in a particular area of interest.

see also Animal.

Denise Prendergast


Cosgrove, Holli R., ed. Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance, 11th ed. Chicago: Ferguson Publishing Company, 2000.

Zoology Researcher

views updated May 14 2018

Zoology Researcher

A zoologist is a scientist who studies animals, whether slugs or spiders, rattlesnakes or ravens. Most zoologists work at universities where often they also teach biology. Others work as government biologists for the Forest Service or the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for example. Others work for nonprofit environmental organizations or private companies that do environmental impact reports. A few write about science for the public.

Zoologists may study animals in a laboratory or in the wild. For example, a zoologist might go to Africa several times a year to study the social behavior of hyenas. The zoologist catches individual hyenas and puts collars on them that carry radio transmitters. Each transmitter emits a different signal, so the zoologist always knows where each hyena is. This not only allows the researcher to map the movements of each animal, but to find the animal when necessary.

Zoologists also breed animals in captivity. In captivity, animals rarely behave the same way that they do in the wild, but it is easier to do experiments under controlled conditions. Whether in the lab or in the field, zoologists study the behavior, evolution, ecology, and physiology of animals. Many zoologists study how one species interacts with another or how plants and animals "coevolve." Zoologists who study behavior or physiology often study animals mainly in a laboratory.

Almost all zoologists have at least a bachelor's degree in biology, zoology, ecology, or a similar field. Many zoologists have a master of arts (M.A.) or a master of science (M.S.) degree. University and college professors almost always have a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.). Often, zoologists who work for the government must pass an exam in a field such as wildlife biology. High school students interested in a career in zoology should take math classes, through calculus, and explore nearby natural areas, learning the names of the plants and animals.

see also Behavior Patterns; Endangered Species; Field Studies in Animal Behavior

Jennie Dusheck


Crompton, John. Ways of the Ant. New York: Nick Lyons Books, 1988.

Owens, Mark, and Delia Owens. Cry of the Kalahari: Seven Years in Africa's Last Great Wilderness. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984.

Steinhart, Peter. The Company of Wolves. New York: Knopf, 1995.


views updated May 29 2018


Zoology is a branch of biology that concentrates on the study of animals. The term comes from two Greek words: "zoon," which means "animal," and "logos," which means "the word about." Although the Greek philosopher Aristotle is sometimes called "the father of zoology," humans have always been interested in learning about animals, so it is difficult to say when zoology originated.

Because the animal kingdom is by far the largest and most varied of all the kingdoms, zoology is an extremely broad discipline. It includes such topics as the anatomy, physiology, embryology , genetics, and ecology of animals. It was natural, therefore, that this topic became subdivided as human knowledge increased. An early partition distinguished vertebrate zoology from invertebrate zoology, but because about 97 percent of all animals are invertebrates (spineless), that was not an appropriate distinction. While classical zoologists of the 1800s and 1900s were concerned largely with discovering new kinds of animals and describing their structure and their evolutionary relationships, twenty-first-century zoology focuses on understanding how different animals solve the common problems of survival (such as obtaining energy, coping with temperature changes, and coordinating behavior), a field known as comparative animal physiology.

see also Animalia; Biology.

Margaret Simpson


Hall, Thomas S. A Source Book in Animal Biology. New York: Hafner Publishing Company, 1964.

Hays, Hoffman Reynolds. Birds, Beasts, and Men: A Humanist History of Zoology. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1973.


views updated May 29 2018

zoology Study of animals; combined with botany, it comprises the science of biology. It is concerned with the structure of the animal and the way in which animals behave, reproduce and function, their evolution, and their role in interactions with humankind and their environment. There are various subdivisions of the discipline, including taxonomy, ecology, palaeontology, anatomy, and zoogeography (the distribution of animals). Anthropology is an extension of zoology. See also embryology; genetics; morphology


views updated Jun 27 2018

zo·ol·o·gy / zōˈäləjē; zoō-/ • n. the scientific study of the behavior, structure, physiology, classification, and distribution of animals. ∎  the animal life of a particular area or time: the zoology of Russia's vast interior.DERIVATIVES: zo·ol·o·gist / -jist/ n.


views updated May 23 2018

zo·o·log·i·cal / ˌzōəˈläjikəl; ˌzoōə-/ • adj. of or relating to zoology: zoological classification. ∎  of or relating to animals: eighty zoological woodcuts.DERIVATIVES: zo·o·log·i·cal·ly / -ik(ə)lē/ adv.