biology, the science that deals with living things. It is broadly divided into zoology, the study of animal life, and botany, the study of plant life. Subdivisions of each of these sciences include cytology (the study of cells), histology (the study of tissues), anatomy or morphology, physiology, and embryology (the study of the embryonic development of an individual animal or plant). Also included in biological studies are the sciences of genetics, evolution, paleontology, and taxonomy or systematics, the study of classification. The methods and attitudes of other sciences are brought to the study of biology in such fields as biochemistry (physiological chemistry), biophysics (the physics of life processes), bioclimatology and biogeography (ecology), bioengineering (the design of artificial organs), biometry or biostatistics, bioenergetics, and biomathematics. Evidences of early human observations of nature are seen in prehistoric cave art. Biological concepts began to develop among the early Greeks. The biological works of Aristotle include his observations and classification of his large collections of animals. The invention of the microscope in the 16th cent. gave a great stimulus to biology, broadening and deepening its scope and creating the sciences of microbiology, the study of microscopic forms of life, and microscopy, the microscopic study of living cells. Among the many who contributed to the science are Claude Bernard, Cuvier, Darwin, T. H. Huxley, Lamarck, Linnaeus, Mendel, and Pasteur. See marine biology.
See T. Lenoir, The Strategy of Life (1989); C. A. Villee et al., Biology (3d ed. 1989); N. A. Campbell, Biology (3d ed. 1993).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.