Zoology is the biological discipline which involves the study of animals. The study of animal life is, of course, ancient: but as 'zoology' it is relatively modern, for what we call biology was known as 'natural history' at the start of the nineteenth century. During the lifetime of Charles Darwin, natural history turned from a gentlemanly pursuit to a modern scientific activity. Zoology as we know it was first established in German and British universities.
Morphography (a branch of zoology) includes the systematic exploration and tabulation of the facts involved in the recognition of all the recent and extinct kinds of animals and their distribution in space and time.The museum-makers of old days and their modern representatives the curators and describers of zoological collections, early explorers and modern naturalist travelers and writers on zoo-geography, and collectors of fossils and palaeontologists are the chief varieties of zoological workers coming under this heading. Gradually, anatomical study has associated itself with the more superficial morphography until today no one considers a study of animal form of any value which does not include internal structure, histology and embryology in its scope.
Animals are a major group of organisms, classified as the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. In general they are multicellular, capable of locomotion, responsive to their environment, and feed by consuming other organisms. Their body plan becomes fixed as they develop, usually early on in their development as embryos, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on.
The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animal, of which animalia is the plural, and is derived from anima, meaning vital breath or soul. In everyday usage animal refers to any member of the animal kingdom that is not a human being, and sometimes excludes insects (although including such arthropods as crabs). The use of the word animal in law typically reflects the common pre-scientific use of the word, roughly equivalent to what modern biology would classify as nonhuman mammal. For example, wildlife laws commonly use phrases such as "animals, birds and fish."
The Scripture is full of references to animals, but they are not described in modern scientific terms. Almost always, they are connected with some spiritual significance, to teach us about God or to give us instruction about how we are to live. (A few examples of these are Job 12:7-10, Prov. 6:6-8, and Matthew 6:26.) Genesis 1 tells us that swimming and flying creatures were created on the fifth day, and that cattle, creeping things, and beasts of the earth were created on the sixth. God then created man and gave him dominion over the "fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." As Christians we want to avoid two extremes when dealing with animals. First, we must avoid abusing and exploiting them (Prov. 12:10). But second, we should not idolize them. In fact, Romans 1 says that it is a curse from God when we do. Animals are beasts, for our use as we obey God's command to take dominion over the earth.
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