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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/447

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443
ZOOLOGY

demonstrates the evolution of species as a universal process, while the broad study of the dynamic relations of animals is concerned with the causes of this process, as what we may venture to call the physiology of evolution. In brief, then, the great questions of zoology are the what and the how of evolution.

In view of the earlier lectures, it is unnecessary to speak at length of classification or taxonomy—the first division of static or structural zoology. Aristotle, who gathered and studied some five hundred of the more common animals of the earth and shore and sea, and the medievalists, Wotton and Ray, Gesner and Aldrovandi, were animated primarily by the instincts of the collector of interesting information. Linnæus, the great figure of the eighteenth century, rendered an immortal service to zoology (and botany, too) by introducing the present ordered system of naming and classifying organisms. But classification was to Linnæus an end in itself, he could not see that it was but a means to the larger end of understanding and expressing evolutionary relationships—that resemblance meant consanguinity. It remained for Erasmus Darwin, the elder St. Hiliare, Lamarck and others to appreciate this inner meaning which so vivifies the otherwise dead details of taxonomy.

The many connected details of animal structure and development and function constitute the threads, as it were, which are interwoven by comparative treatment to form the warp and woof of the fabric of zoology. Classification draws upon this fabric the pattern of genealogical connections, emphasizing those threads that run furthest, the so-called distinctive or diagnostic characters. And though the pattern must be altered here and there as knowledge increases, the zoologist feels that it has a real significance as a representation of evolutionary descent.

As more and more of the lower animals were brought by the microscope from the obscurity of their zoological underworld, as exploration revealed more of the creatures of previously unknown lands, as investigation became more detailed and intensive, comparative anatomy arose as an independent branch of zoology with distinct purposes of its own; and it gained its specific form and character from the studies of the great zoologists of the early nineteenth century—Lamarck, Cuvier, Geoffroy St. Hiliare, Goethe, Owen and Oken. These naturalists dissected and compared the various organic systems of animals, following them as widely as possible from group to group of the numerous vertebrate and invertebrate forms, and they and their followers have placed the doctrine of evolution upon the sure and broad foundation of comparative anatomy. The main principle of this department of zoology is that the varied forms of animals exhibit deep-seated likenesses that place them in groups related to one another