Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/446

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
442
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

courses. I shall pass directly to a description of the elements of the present science of zoology and of its history, so far as this is necessary for a clear understanding of the various divisions of the subject and of their connections; and finally I shall endeavor to show how through its human materials zoology articulates directly with other fields of knowledge.

Zoology is the science that deals with the structure, development and inter-relationships of animals, with the workings of their parts, their activities and their relations to their environment, and with the factors that determine their forms. We may recognize two great divisions of the subject, which are concerned respectively with static and with dynamic principles, though the materials of both divisions are the same—namely, all animals throughout the entire range from the highest to the lowest. It is of course clear that morphology—the science of structure—can not be absolutely separated from physiology—the science of function in its widest sense—for we do not know of organic structures that play absolutely no part in an animal's economy, even though this may be a relatively passive one; while on the other hand we do not know—in science at any rate—of a function that is devoid of a material basis. The division is made solely for the sake of analysis, and it depends entirely upon the point of view. Morphology treats adult animals, their different developmental stages, and, more naturally, the remains of extinct animals as though they were arrested in their living, but the dynamic aspects of organic life are so prominent and insistent that it is really impossible to ignore them even temporarily.

Besides dealing with the same materials, the many complicated problems of zoology are still further connected in that the central object of study for both the structural and physiological divisions is evolution. As we look back over the history of the subject from our modern vantage-ground, we can see how zoology began with ancient and medieval natural history, how from this parent stock arose the additional separate branches of anatomy, embryology, paleontology and distribution, how human physiology became comparative physiology which developed later into the broad and deep enquiry into all the activities of animals, their vital relations to one another, and their reactions to and upon the environment; and we can see how all these several branches were vitalized by the great principle of evolution. This whole history shows a steady progress through one phase after another toward the modern study of evolution, though the naturalists of the eighteenth and even of much of the nineteenth century were unconscious, in whole or in part, of the way their observations and views were contributing to the establishment of the doctrine of descent and to the partial description that can now be offered of the natural factors of evolution. As we shall see, the structural analysis of animals