Zoology is a part of biology that deals with animals. All kinds of animals — elephants, dogs, snakes, and whales.
Zoology even includes some creatures you might not think of as animals such as honeybees, earthworms, starfish, clams, and fish.
Vertebrates and Invertebrates
Animals are divided into two major groups — those with backbones and those without. Those with backbones include the mammals (humans are mammals), birds, reptiles (lizards and snakes), amphibians (frogs and salamanders), and fish (goldfish and sharks). Animals with backbones are called vertebrates.
However, the vertebrates are just a tiny fraction of all animals. 99% of all animals do not have backbones. Animals without backbones are called invertebrates. Here are some of the more well-known ones — insects, worms, clams, starfish, crabs, spiders and amoeba.
Browse the animal photo galleries at the National Zoo for a close-up view of some members of the Animal Kingdom.
How Do Animals Get Their Names?
How do animals get their names? A unique two-part scientific name is given to all animals. This allows people all over the world to communicate with each other about the animal. The name also tells how animals are related to each other and maybe even something special about the animal. The scientific name for humans is homo sapiens.
All animals are members of the Kingdom Animalia — The Animal Kingdom. Visit AnimalDiversity.org to find out how the animal kingdom is organized.
Who Studies Animals?
There is much to learn about animals, including the classification of animals, anatomy (how they're put together), physiology (how they work inside), development (how they grow and change), behavior, evolution distribution and environment. Scientists who study animals are called zoologists.
You can find zoologists working in the wild studying animal behavior. Some work in zoos, research stations or laboratories. Some study parts of an animals while others study the whole animal. A zoologist usually has a specialty If you study fish you are called an “Ichthyologist.” If you study birds you are called an “Orinithologist.”
What do primatologists and microbiologists study? And what is animal husbandry? Check out these quick facts about careers in Zoology.
You can step outside and see examples of animal life all around you. But to see animals from far away you can visit a zoo in person or browse a zoo's online exhibit. Follow this link to the San Diego Zoo for an example of what zoos are doing for conservation of, education about and research on the world's wildlife.