Squirrels and Chipmonks
There are over 7 million zoological (non human) species of animals on Earth. The study of animals is called zoology or animal biology. The word "zoology" comes from two Ancient Greek words: zoion ("animal") and logos ("knowledge, study").
Zoology is the branch of biology that studies all aspects of the animal kingdom, including:
- Structure - How the animal is shaped, its molecular structure
- Embryology - development of embryos and fetuses (babies)
- Evolution - changes in heritable traits of biological populations over successive generations
- Classification - the arrangement of animals and plants in taxonomic groups according to their observed similarities
- Habits - behavior and usual ways of living and migration patterns for a particular species
- Distribution - where the animals live
- Ecosystems - dependencies, how a community of living things function together
Species of animals are categorized into ecological groups which are determined largely by the particular eating habits or diet of the creatures:
- Carnivore - an animal that feeds on flesh.
- Herbivore - an animal that feeds on plants.
- Omnivore - an animal or person that eats food of both plant and animal origin
- Detritivore - an animal which feeds on dead organic material, especially plant detritus.
- Parasite - an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species and benefits by deriving nutrients at the hosts expense.
The largest animal is the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). This ocean-dwelling creature can weigh up to 210 tons or about 420,000 pounds! (In metrics this amounts to 190 metric tonnes or 172,365.101 kilograms.) The largest land animal is the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana).
The smallest know animals can only be seen through a microscope. Among the smallest species is a fish parasite, the Myxobolus species of microrganism. The smallest is the Myxobolus shekel which only grows to be about 8.5 microns. To view this nearly invisible creature you need to get your hands on an electron microscope. The electron microscope uses a wavelength of accelerated electrons to illuminate up to 100,000 times visible light.
Animals in Art and Literature
From the first cave people to skyscraper dwellers of modern times, humans have created art and stories about real and imaginary animals. spirit world creatures which traverse between dimensions of good vs evil. Dragon myths exist in virtually every culture each with features distinctive of the region. Winged dragons, beasts with sharp talons, some could breath fire, others protect the universe within the mouth. The Welsh Griffin appears on the flag as the national symbol of Wales. Fantastic illustrations of sea serpents appear in ship history logs, children's fairy tales and horror stories of the open sea.