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The branch of biology that deals with animals and animal life, including the study of the structure, physiology, development, and classification of animals. The term Zoology is also used in the other sense. It is the animal life of a particular area or period e.g. the zoology of Alaska; the zoology of the Pleistocene.

animal diversity

It is the characteristics of a particular animal group or category e.g. the zoology of mammals.  The science originated in the works of Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Pliny.  The contributions of individuals such as Carolus Linnaeus (system of nomenclature), Louis Agassis, Thomas H. Huxley, Richard Owen (homology), Georges-Louis de Buffon(natural history), Georges Cuvier(comparative anatomy), and Claude Bernard (homeostasis), Charles Darwin (Natural Selection), G.J. Mendel (Inheritance) etc. greatly advanced the field.  Aristotle is considered as father of zoology.

The study of science has dual purpose : firstly to gain the knowledge i.e. Pure Science and secondly to be able to apply this knowledge to the human welfare i.e Applied Science.  Zoology also in the same ways has a dual purpose.  Related with the other branches it has more meaning.  Zoology is related to all the other sciences and is more closely related to Botany.  Knowledge of physics, chemistry and and other physial sciences is also useful to explain the biological phenomena in animals.

Different methods of classification are followed by taxonomists to make the study of animals more easy.  Whittaker considered cell structure, complexity of body and nutrition as main criteria for classification.  He placed prokaryotic organisms under kingdom Monera, eukaryotic - unicellular organisms under kingdom Protista, multicellular autotrophs under kingdom Plantae, multicellular heterotrophs under kingdom Animalia and multicellular decomposers under kingdom Fungi. 

In kingdom animalia, animals are included under differnt major and minor phyla.  Animals are characterized by different body plans like number of cell layers during the development, organisation, fate of blastopore, symmetry, body cavity, cleavages, gut etc. The animal world or animal kingdom is divided into two major groups:  non-chordata and chordata. These two groups are named on the basis of an embryonic structure called notochord.  In non-chordates, notochord is not found in any stage of their life but it is certainly found atleast in some stage of the life of a chordate. 

Non-chordates are further divided into a number of phyla; the major ones are Porifera, Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Annelida, Mollusca, Arthropoda and Echinodermata. Phylum chordata has been divided into two groups- Protochordata and Vertebrata.  Protochordates are primitive lower chordates in which vertebral column or back bone is not found but they possess notochord and they are represented by cephalochordates and urochordates. Vertebrata also referred to as craniata incluldes chordates with vertebral column or back bone.  The living vertebrates are grouped into seven classes.  These classes are - Agnatha or Cyclostomata, Chondrichthyes (cartilagenous fishes), Osteichthyes (bony fishes), Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves and Mammalia.

Areas of Study under Zoology:

The following are the main branches of zoology.

  1. Taxonomy (Taxis = arrangemnt; nomos = law):- Taxonomy is the theory and practice of identification, nomenclature and classification of organisms.  Identification deals with the study of external characters and fundamental anatomy of an organism in order to identify its systematic position and know its structural relationship with the other organisms.  Nomenclature is the science of providing a distinct scientific name to an organism.  Classification is the arrangement of organisms into different taxonomic groups, based on their interrelationships.
  2. Morphology (Morphos = form; logos = study):-  It deals with the study of form, size, shape, colour and structure of various organisms and their tissue, organs, organ systems etc.  It includes External morphology, internal morphology.  External morphology is the study of external characters of an organism.  Internal morphology is the branch deals with the study of internal structure.  It includes Anatomy and Histoloy.  Anatomy (Ana = up; tome = cutting) is the study of the internal arrangement of different organs or organ systems in an organism as observed with the naked eye.  Histology (Histos  = tissue; logos = study) is the study of microscopic structure of different tissues.  This branch is also referred to as Microanatomy.
  3. Cytology (Kytos = cells; logos = study) :- Cytology deals with the study of form and structure of cells and cell organelles.  Cell biology is the branch of science that deals with the study of the cell as a structural and functional unit of living organisms.
  4. Physiology (Physis = nature of functioning; logos = study) :-  It is the study of different body functions and processes.
  5. Embryology (Embryon = embryo; logos = study):-  Embryology deals with the study of events that lead to fertilization, cleavages, early growth and differentiation of zygote into an embryo.  It is also defined as the branch of biology dealing with the formation and development of embryos.
  6. Evolution (e = out; volva = roll) :-  It is the study of origin of life and continuous genetic adaptations of organisms of the environment.  It also deals with the gradual changes that occur in the living organisms through the geological time.  Evolution means unfloding.  Herbert Spencer coined the term "Organic Evolution".
  7. Palaeontology (Paleo = ancient; on = being, logos = study) :-  Study of fossilised remains of organisms of the past geological ages is called palaeontology.  This includes palaeobotany (fossils of plants) and palaeozoology (fossils of animals).
  8. Ecology (Oikos = house; logos = study) or Environmental Biology :-  It is the study of living organisms in relation to the other living organisms (biotic factors) and abiotic environmental factors.  Haeckel coined the term ecology.
  9. Biogeography :- This branch of biology deals with the study of distribution of organisms in various geographical regions on the earth.  It includes Phytogeography (distribution of plants) and Zoogeography (distribution of animals).
  10. Genetics (Gen = to grow into) :-  Genetics is the study of inheritance of characters from one generation ot the next. It deals with heredity and variations.  Bateson coined the term Genetics.
  11. Molecular Biology :-  It is the study of the nature of biomolecules (organic macromolecules) and their interaction in organisms.
  12. Ethology (ethos = character) :-  The study of the animal behaviour based on the systematic observation, recording, analysis of functions of animals, with special attention to physiological, ecological and evolutionalry aspects is called Ethology.
  13. Exobiology, or Astrobiology, or Space Biology :-  The branch of biology that deals with the search for extra-terrestrial life and the effects of extraterrestrial surroundings on living organisms.

Application of Zology:

  • Its application in the industry, agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, human health and diseases is more significant to man.
  • Zoology is also related to industrial applications (Economic Zoology) like manufacture of drugs, leather goods, cosmetics, sports goods etc.
  • Zoology helps us in rearing animals and extensive tapping of animal products like milk, fat, honey, fish, eggs, fur, wool, silk, shellac, pearls etc.  So, zoology has a lot of practical scope in human welfare.
  • It forms the part of Dairy sciences (rearing of cattle), Animal Breeding, Pharmacology (study of drugs), Veterinary Science (treatment of domesticated animals), Poultry Farming (raising of birds),  Fishery (capturing and culturing of aquatic organisms),  Sericulture (rearing of silk worms), Apiculture (rearing of honeybee) etc., which have a lot of potential for employment.

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