Science College, General Science Dept
Zoology is one of the branches of Biology. It is the study of the Animal Kingdom, or a part of it. Meow kitties, I am your teacher Jessie Blyton, and this class today is about one of the animal families called the Felidae. It is our very own family within the Animal Kingdom. From the littlest kitten of CLAW to the mightiest tiger in the wild, all cats belong to the Felidae.
(1) Our Place In The Animal Kingdom
Let's first review what we already know about our place in the Animal Kingdom. We learnt in another class called "Animal Kingdom" that we are all chordate mammals-- we have backbones (like all advanced chordates) and our young are born live and fed on mother's milk (like all advanced mammals). This part of our classification we share with our humans.
But below this classification, humans and cats diverge. Humans belong to the order Primates, along with monkeys and apes. Cats belong to the order Carnivora, along with most other carnivorous mammals. The Carnivora are all adapted to a greater or lesser extent for the purpose of catching and eating other animals. You might be surprised to find that just as humans are related to monkeys and apes, we are similarly related to other Carnivora-- to bears, weasels, seals, hyenas and even... dogs!
(2) How Zoologists Work
What I've been doing so far, comparing animals of different types to work out their similarities and differences, and placing them in a classification based on this, is called Taxonomy. Taxonomy involves the close study of animals, particularly measuring and comparing the details of their skeletons and other parts. It is one of the major mental tools or disciplines that zoologists use to study animals. You will see in this class how it is used. You will also see that Zoology depends upon other disciplines or specializations within Biology and that each of these disciplines, including Zoology itself, overlaps and depends on its fellows to some extent.
Besides Taxonomy, some of the other disciplines that help Zoologists are:
* Paleontology: the study of fossils, or traces of long-dead animals and plants, preserved in rocks.
* Ecology: the study of relationships between different organisms and with their environment.
* Genetics: the study of inheritance and DNA. Today this is becoming one of the most important tools of the Zoologist, more useful even than taxonomy.
* Animal Behavior: the study of how animals act and interact.
* Biogeography: the study of the geographical distribution of living things.
So now, class, armed with the necessary background, let us look closely at the Felidae under the following headings:
1. Description and Habits
2. The Variety of Living Felidae
3. Distribution Around the World
4. Evolution of the Felidae
5. Field trip
Quiz | Next