Biology is often approached on the basis of levels that deal with fundamental units of life.
Biology is the branch of science dealing with the study of life. It describes the characteristics, classification, and behaviors of organisms, how species come into existence, and the interactions they have with each other and with the environment. Biology has many specialized areas, covering a wide range of scales, from biochemistry to ecology.
Biology is the science of life. Its name is derived from the Greek words “bios” (life) and “logos” (study). Biologists study the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution and distribution of living organisms. There are generally considered to be at least nine “umbrella” fields of biology, each of which consists of multiple subfields.
- Biochemistry: the study of the material substances that make up living things
- Botany: the study of plants, including agriculture
- Cellular biology: the study of the basic cellular units of living things
- Ecology: the study of how organisms interact with their environment
- Evolutionary biology the study of the origins and changes in the diversity of life over time
- Genetics: the study of heredity
- Molecular biology: the study of biological molecules
- Physiology: the study of the functions of organisms and their parts
- Zoology: the study of animals, including animal behavior
Adding to the complexity of this enormous idea is the fact that these fields overlap. It is impossible to study zoology without knowing a great deal about evolution, physiology and ecology. You can’t study cellular biology without knowing biochemistry and molecular biology as well.
Our fascination with biology has a long history. Even early humans had to study the animals they hunted and know where to find the plants they gathered for food. The invention of agriculture was the first great advance of human civilization. Medicine has been important to us from earliest history as well. The earliest known medical texts are from China (2500 B.C.), Mesopotamia (2112 B.C.), and Egypt (1800 B.C.).
In classical times, Aristotle is often considered to be the first to practice scientific zoology. He is known to have performed extensive studies of marine life and plants. His student, Theophrastus, wrote one of the West’s earliest known botanical texts in 300 B.C. on the structure, life cycle and uses of plants. The Roman physician Galen used his experience in patching up gladiators for the arena to write texts on surgical procedures in A.D. 158.
During the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci risked censure by participating in human dissection and making detailed anatomical drawings that are still considered among the most beautiful ever made. Invention of the printing press and the ability to reproduce woodcut illustrations meant that information was much easier to record and disseminate. One of the first illustrated biology books is a botanical text written by German botanist Leonhard Fuchs in 1542. Binomial classification was inaugurated by Carolus Linnaeus in 1735, using Latin names to group species according to their characteristics.
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