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The branches of zoology and what each one studies

Zoology is a word that comes etymologically from the Greek zoos (animal) and logos (science or treatise), so zoology can be considered as the science of animals. Since a large number of animal species inhabit the planet, zoology is divided into numerous specialties to facilitate its study. In addition, there are multiple points of view to study animals.

In this AgroCorrn article, we talk about the branches of zoology and what each one studies .

  1. What is zoology and its history
  2. General zoology: what it is and its branches
  3. What is descriptive zoology and what do its branches study?

What is zoology and its history

Since ancient times, man began to be interested in animals and their great diversity. The history of zoology begins in the fourth century BC in ancient Greece , when Aristotle described numerous species of animals and made one of the first outlines of the classification of the animal kingdom. However, much of his conclusions were not scientifically rigorous because they were not based on experimentation.

Already in the Renaissance, zoological research adopted a true scientific rigor and some of the theories previously raised by Aristotle and some of the fanciful concepts that were held up to that moment were discarded. A fundamental invention for the development of this science was that of the microscope by the Dutchman Anton Van Leeuwehoek, which allowed access to the study of animal tissues and microorganisms

In the 18th century, the Swede Carlos Linnaeus was the pioneer in tackling a systematic classification of the animals and plants that inhabit the planet in a work that was continued by the French naturalist George Cuvier. In 1859, Charles Darwin and his theory of the evolution of species brought a great advance to studies in zoology.

Currently, zoology studies animals from points of view such as morphological and anatomical descriptions of the different species, their functioning, their various systems and organs, their behavior, their distribution, their ecology and, finally, their taxonomic classification in the various groups. . Because of this, we can divide zoology into two main subdivisions: general zoology and descriptive zoology .

General zoology: what it is and its branches

General zoology studies all the generic and common aspects of the various animal species without making a taxonomic classification. In turn, it is subdivided into various branches. These are the main branches of general zoology and what they study :


This branch studies the external forms and structure of the various organs or organisms, that is, it describes both the external physical form and the arrangement of the body parts of an animal.


This branch studies the structure, size, arrangement, shape, relationships, situation and number of the external and internal parts of the bodies (also of the human being). We can in turn divide it into:

  • Comparative anatomy: study the similarities and differences that exist between human organs and those of other animals.
  • Pathological anatomy: study of organic dysfunctions caused by diseases.
  • Descriptive anatomy: describes the shape, relationships, arrangement and extent of the different organs.
  • Topographic anatomy: study the relationships of place between the different organs.


This branch studies the composition and structure of the body’s tissues. The first microscopic studies date back to 1668 with the observation of cell-like structures (later called cells) by the English physicist Robert Hooke. As early as 1839, the German physiologist and anatomist Theodor Schwann established the principles of the cellular organization of living beings.


This branch studies the physiological functions of animal organisms, that is, the physical and chemical processes that take place in animals. The ancient physician Claudio Galeno is considered the first physiologist in history. He was a great dissection expert and anatomist, who studied the physiology of animals such as dogs, apes, and pigs.


This branch studies the formation and development of the animal embryo. It can be descriptive, comparative or experimental.


Study the phenomena of variation and inheritance in animal organisms. It can be applied to inheritance within populations or to a specific organism.


Study the behavior of different animals in their environment and the mechanisms that determine their behaviors.


Study the relationships between different animal organisms and with their environment. Learn more about this science in this other AgroCorrn article on Defining ecology .

What is descriptive zoology and what do its branches study?

This subdivision studies aspects such as the taxonomic classifications of animals, their distributions and the specific descriptions of the different groups. These are the branches of descriptive zoology and what they study :

Systematics or taxonomy

This branch deals with the classification of different animals and is based on morphological, anatomical, cytogenetic (chromosome) comparisons, etc. Divide the groups into kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. It also accepts intermediate categories as subclasses or superorders.


Study the geographical distribution of the different animal groups.


Study animal fossils. In turn, it can be divided into groups of organisms. If you like fossils, you may be interested in knowing which is the oldest fossil in the world with this other article.


It studies the relationships of filiation and the evolution of animal forms, that is, the progressive evolution from simpler to more complex forms.


He studies parasitic relationships and living parasitic organisms such as protozoa, arthropods, and helminths. Excludes prokaryotes, fungi and viruses (microbiology)


It studies both terrestrial and aquatic or marine mammals, that is, the class Mammalia .


Study the fish. It includes Osteichthians (bony fish, they are the majority), Chondrichthyans (cartilaginous fish such as shark or rays) and Agnatos (fish devoid of jaws).


Study insects from a genetic, morphological, physiological, taxonomic or ecological point of view.


Study mollusks, which is the second largest phylum in number of described species.

If you want to read more articles similar to The branches of zoology and what each one studies , we recommend that you enter our Biology category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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