This lesson will give you an overview of zoology. First, the field is defined. Then, you'll get an idea of the many branches of zoology and a taste of the wide variety of tools a zoologist may need.
What Is Zoology?
Do you like animals? More than likely, you do. Do you like classifying things? Anatomy? Physiology? If you answered yes to all three, then perhaps zoology may be something for you to consider. Zoology involves the study of animals. Not just any study, but how to classify animals, their history, their anatomy and physiology, their development, and so much more.
Just like there are many components to zoology, there are many branches of zoology and tools zoologists use to do their job well. This lesson gives you an overview of all of those things.
Branches of Zoology
There are so many amazing branches of zoology. To learn about a few of them, we're going to meet some zoologists. First up is Dr. Jane. Dr. Jane works in the Amazon rainforest. She studies all sorts of things many people are afraid of; things that aren't warm-blooded. She's also afraid of stepping on her study subjects for fear of hearing a 'crunch'. Did you guess what Dr. Jane studies? Insects! She's an entomologist, or a person who studies insects.
Entomology is the study of insects.
Next up is Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob actually works for the same team as Dr. Jane, so he's also in the Amazon rainforest. However, he doesn't work so much on land as he does on a boat on the Amazon River. He doesn't study microscopic things in the water either. You probably already guessed what he studies. Dr. Bob is an ichthyologist, a person who studies fish.
If neither insects nor fish are up your alley, then maybe Dr. Mary will pique your interest in the field of zoology. Dr. Mary's heroes when growing up were the Wright brothers. She also uses big nets strung up across the air to try and catch her study subjects, like a spider would catch flies. If you've guessed Dr. Mary loves to study birds and flight, you're right! That's because she is an ornithologist, or a person who studies birds.
Depending on your perspective, birds are somewhat related to what Dr. Jim studies. Dr. Jim can be found in arid locations around the world looking for wavy tracks in the sand and dirt. He's also found alongside ponds in the middle of forests, listening for tell-tale sounds of what he's looking for. Have you guessed what Dr. Jim studies? Dr. Jim is a herpetologist, or someone who studies reptiles and amphibians.
Herpetology is the study of reptiles and, like this now extinct golden toad, amphibians.
There are plenty more branches of zoology and related fields that encompass zoological aspects, including but not limited to:
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Ethology, the study of animal behavior when they are in their normal environment
Histology, or the microscopic (anatomical) study of tissues
Helminthology, the study of parasitic worms
Pathology, the study of diseases
Protozoology, the study of protozoans
Paleozoology, the study of animal fossils
Taxonomy, which refers to the science of classification itself
The last topic, taxonomy, was at one point heavily influenced by important investigations carried out in zoos. In other words, investigations about how different animals should be classified. Early scientists used zoos to help classify animals into groupings based on ecology, close relatives, anatomical features, and many other characteristics.
Tools of Zoology
Depending on which of these branches you happen to be working in, the tools will vary. Here are some examples of the wide range of things a zoologist may need to complete their work:
Nets for catching specimens
Microscopes for taking a closer look
Chisels to pry samples out of a rock face
Test tubes to collect samples of water, blood, tissue, and so forth
Instruments, like scalpels, to dissect organisms
Computers and specialized software for the development of complex models
Binoculars to see things that are far away without disturbing them
Specialized cameras to take pictures of animals remotely
Tents and sleeping bags while working out in the field
Let's review. Zoology refers to the study of animals and how they develop, are classified, and what kind of anatomy and physiology they have. The branches of zoology include:
Entomology, the study of insects
Ichthyology, the study of fish
Ornithology, the study of birds
Herpetology, or the study of reptiles and amphibians
Anatomy and physiology
And many others!
The tools zoologists use are also quite varied. If you ever meet one, they could be using everything from nets, chisels, and microscopes to computers, cameras, tents, and sleeping bags.
In this creative writing activity, students are going to write about a day in the life of one type of zoologist from the lesson. They can write it from the perspective of the zoologist, or from the perspective of a narrator following the zoologist throughout their day. The plot can be anything the student can create, but should follow a plot structure of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
For example, a student might choose to write a short story about an ichthyologist on an expedition in the Amazon rainforest. The student would need to look up what fish live in the Amazon river to create a realistic story for his ichthyologist. The exposition might be setting the story in the Amazon, with rising action of learning about a new species of fish from villagers. At the climax, the ichthyologist might have found the fish and then during the falling action take the fish back to his lab and the resolution could be the discovery of a new species.
Now that you know about some of the different types of zoologists, you're going to put your creative writing skills to work and imagine a day in the life of one of them. To start, first choose a specialization from the lesson in zoology, or research one that wasn't explained. Then, create a plot diagram that includes a description of the introduction, or exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution for your story. Then, get to work writing. Your story must be at least 2,000 words and should include images. You can use MS Word, Google Docs, LucidPress, or hand write your story. It can be from the perspective of the zoologist, from a narrator's perspective, or something else. However, the story must center around a zoologist!
Criteria For Success
Story is at least 2,000 words
Story centers around one type of zoologist
Story is scientifically accurate and reflects the job of a zoologist
Story includes pictures, as well as descriptive language to set the scene
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