HOME

TheInfoList




Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving
organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological me ...

organism
s, including
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...

animal
s,
fungi A fungus (plural: fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of Eukaryote, eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and Mold (fungus), molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as ...

fungi
, and
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel ...

plant
s, in their natural environment, leaning more towards
observation Observation is the active acquisition of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. Th ...

observation
al than
experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support or refute a , or determine the or of something previously untried. Experiments provide insight into by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated. Experime ...

experiment
al methods of study. A person who studies natural history is called a naturalist or natural historian. Natural history encompasses
scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what ...

scientific research
but is not limited to it. It involves the systematic study of any category of
natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and ...

natural
objects or organisms. So while it dates from studies in the ancient
Greco-Roman world File:Merida Roman Theatre2.jpg, Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain. The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, r ...
and the mediaeval Arabic world, through to European
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
naturalists working in near isolation, today's natural history is a cross-discipline umbrella of many specialty sciences; e.g.,
geobiology Geobiology is a field of scientific research that explores the interactions between the physical Earth and the biosphere. It is a relatively young field, and its borders are fluid. There is considerable overlap with the fields of ecology, evolutiona ...
has a strong multidisciplinary nature.


Definitions


Before 1900

The meaning of the English term "natural history" (a
calque In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...

calque
of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
''historia naturalis'') has narrowed progressively with time, while, by contrast, the meaning of the related term "nature" has widened (see also
History History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
below). In
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
, "natural history" covered essentially anything connected with
nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
, or used materials drawn from nature, such as
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
's encyclopedia of this title, published , which covers
astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mathematics, phys ...
,
geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10. ...

geography
, humans and their
technology Technology ("science of craft", from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. I ...

technology
,
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
, and
superstition A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic (supernatural), magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly ap ...
, as well as animals and plants. Medieval European academics considered knowledge to have two main divisions: the
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
(primarily what is now known as
classics Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centred ...

classics
) and
divinity Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...
, with science studied largely through texts rather than observation or experiment. The study of nature revived in the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
, and quickly became a third branch of academic knowledge, itself divided into descriptive natural history and
natural philosophy Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from ''philosophia naturalis'') was the study of and the physical that was dominant before the development of . From the ancient world, at least since , to the 19th century, ''natural philosophy' ...
, the analytical study of nature. In modern terms, natural philosophy roughly corresponded to modern
physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of eve ...

physics
and
chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a with other . ...

chemistry
, while natural history included the
biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowl ...

biological
and
geological Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which th ...

geological
sciences. The two were strongly associated. During the heyday of the
gentleman scientist An independent scientist (historically also known as gentleman scientist) is a financially independent scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area o ...
s, many people contributed to both fields, and early papers in both were commonly read at professional science society meetings such as the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by Charles II of ...
and the
French Academy of Sciences The French Academy of Sciences (French: ''Académie des sciences'') is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an discipli ...
—both founded during the 17th century. Natural history had been encouraged by practical motives, such as Linnaeus' aspiration to improve the economic condition of Sweden. Similarly, the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
prompted the development of geology to help find useful
mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.John P. Rafferty, ed. (2 ...

mineral
deposits.


Since 1900

Modern definitions of natural history come from a variety of fields and sources, and many of the modern definitions emphasize a particular aspect of the field, creating a plurality of definitions with a number of common themes among them. For example, while natural history is most often defined as a type of observation and a subject of study, it can also be defined as a body of knowledge, and as a craft or a practice, in which the emphasis is placed more on the observer than on the observed. Definitions from biologists often focus on the scientific study of individual organisms in their environment, as seen in this definition by Marston Bates: "Natural history is the study of animals and Plants—of organisms. ... I like to think, then, of natural history as the study of life at the level of the individual—of what plants and animals do, how they react to each other and their environment, how they are organized into larger groupings like populations and communities" and this more recent definition by D.S. Wilcove and T. Eisner: "The close observation of organisms—their origins, their evolution, their behavior, and their relationships with other species". This focus on organisms in their environment is also echoed by H.W. Greene and J.B. Losos: "Natural history focuses on where organisms are and what they do in their environment, including interactions with other organisms. It encompasses changes in internal states insofar as they pertain to what organisms do". Some definitions go further, focusing on direct observation of organisms in their environments, both past and present, such as this one by G.A. Bartholomew: "A student of natural history, or a naturalist, studies the world by observing plants and animals directly. Because organisms are functionally inseparable from the environment in which they live and because their structure and function cannot be adequately interpreted without knowing some of their evolutionary history, the study of natural history embraces the study of fossils as well as physiographic and other aspects of the physical environment". A common thread in many definitions of natural history is the inclusion of a descriptive component, as seen in a recent definition by H.W. Greene: "Descriptive ecology and ethology". Several authors have argued for a more expansive view of natural history, including S. Herman, who defines the field as "the scientific study of plants and animals in their natural environments. It is concerned with levels of organization from the individual organism to the ecosystem, and stresses identification, life history, distribution, abundance, and inter-relationships. It often and appropriately includes an esthetic component", and T. Fleischner, who defines the field even more broadly, as "A practice of intentional, focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-than-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy". These definitions explicitly include the arts in the field of natural history, and are aligned with the broad definition outlined by B. Lopez, who defines the field as the "Patient interrogation of a landscape" while referring to the natural history knowledge of the Eskimo (
Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, ...
). A slightly different framework for natural history, covering a similar range of themes, is also implied in the scope of work encompassed by many leading
natural history museum A natural history museum or museum of natural history is a scientific institution with natural history scientific collection, collections that include current and historical records of animals, plants, Fungus, fungi, ecosystems, geology, paleo ...

natural history museum
s, which often include elements of anthropology, geology, paleontology, and astronomy along with botany and zoology, or include both cultural and natural components of the world. The plurality of definitions for this field has been recognized as both a weakness and a strength, and a range of definitions has recently been offered by practitioners in a recent collection of views on natural history.


History


Ancient

Natural history begins with
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
and other ancient philosophers who analyzed the diversity of the natural world. Natural history was understood by
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
to cover anything that could be found in the world, including living things, geology, astronomy, technology, art, and humanity. ''
De Materia Medica (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...
'' was written between 50 and 70 AD by
Pedanius Dioscorides Pedanius Dioscorides ( grc-gre, Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης, ; 40–90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author of ''De materia medica (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to th ...
, a Roman physician of Greek origin. It was widely read for more than 1,500 years until supplanted in the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
, making it one of the longest-lasting of all natural history books. From the
ancient Greeks Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era was ...
until the work of
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomi ...

Carl Linnaeus
and other 18th-century naturalists, a major concept of natural history was the ''scala naturae'' or
Great Chain of Being The Great Chain of Being is a hierarchical structure of all matter and life, thought by medieval Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, ...
, an arrangement of minerals, vegetables, more primitive forms of animals, and more complex life forms on a linear scale of supposedly increasing perfection, culminating in our species.


Medieval

Natural history was basically static through the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
in Europe—although in the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
and
Oriental The Orient is a term for the East East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite ...

Oriental
world, it proceeded at a much brisker pace. From the 13th century, the work of Aristotle was adapted rather rigidly into
Christian philosophy Christian philosophy includes all philosophy carried out by Christians, or in relation to the religion of Christianity. Christian philosophy emerged with the aim of reconcile science and faith, starting from natural rational explanations with ...
, particularly by
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Dominican may refer to: * Someone or something from or related to the Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, ...

Thomas Aquinas
, forming the basis for
natural theology Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
. During the Renaissance, scholars (herbalists and humanists, particularly) returned to direct observation of plants and animals for natural history, and many began to accumulate large collections of exotic specimens and unusual
monster A monster is a type of fictional creature found in horror Horror may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Genres *Horror fiction, a genre of fiction **Japanese horror, Japanese horror fiction **Korean horror, Korean horror fiction *Horr ...

monster
s.
Leonhart Fuchs Leonhart Fuchs (; 17 January 1501 – 10 May 1566), sometimes spelled Leonhard Fuchs, was a German physician and botanist. His chief notability is as the author of a large book about plants and their uses as medicines, a herbal A herbal is a ...

Leonhart Fuchs
was one of the three founding fathers of botany, along with
Otto Brunfels Otto Brunfels (also known as Brunsfels or Braunfels) (believed to be born in 1488 – 23 November 1534) was a German theologian and botanist. Carl von Linné listed him among the ''"Fathers of Botany"''. Life After studying theology and philoso ...

Otto Brunfels
and
Hieronymus Bock Hieronymus Bock ( Latinised Hieronymus Tragus; c. 1498 – 21 February 1554) was a German botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a ...

Hieronymus Bock
. Other important contributors to the field were
Valerius Cordus Valerius Cordus (18 February 1515 – 25 September 1544) was a German physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a profe ...

Valerius Cordus
, Konrad Gesner ('' Historiae animalium''),
Frederik Ruysch Frederik Ruysch (; March 28, 1638 – February 22, 1731) was a Dutch botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise ...
, and
Gaspard Bauhin Gaspard Bauhin or Caspar Bauhin ( la, Casparus Bauhinus; 17 January 1560 – 5 December 1624), was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virgini ...

Gaspard Bauhin
.Natural History Timeline
". HistoryofScience.com.
The rapid increase in the number of known organisms prompted many attempts at classifying and organizing species into taxonomic groups, culminating in the system of the Swedish naturalist
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomi ...

Carl Linnaeus
. The British historian of Chinese science Joseph Needham calls Li Shizhen "the 'uncrowned king' of Chinese naturalists", and his Bencao gangmu "undoubtedly the greatest scientific achievement of the Ming". His works translated to many languages direct or influence many scholars and researchers.


Modern

A significant contribution to English natural history was made by
parson-naturalist A parson-naturalist was a cleric (a "parson A parson is an ordained Christian person responsible for a small area, typically a parish. The term was formerly often used for some Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Chri ...
s such as
Gilbert White Gilbert White Royal Society, FRS (18 July 1720 – 26 June 1793) was a "parson-naturalist", a pioneering England, English natural history, naturalist, ecologist and Ornithology, ornithologist. He is best known for his ''Natural History and Antiq ...

Gilbert White
, William Kirby,
John George Wood Image:John George Wood - Project Gutenberg eText 13103.jpg, Rev J. G. Wood John George Wood, or Rev J. G. Wood, (21 July 1827 – 3 March 1889), was an English writer who popularised natural history with his writings. Life and work Early life a ...
, and
John Ray John Ray FRS (29 November 1627 – 17 January 1705) was an English naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural environment, leaning more towards ob ...

John Ray
, who wrote about plants, animals, and other aspects of nature. Many of these men wrote about nature to make the
natural theology Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
argument for the existence or goodness of God. Since early modern times, however, a great number of women made contributions to natural history, particularly in the field of botany, be it as authors, collectors, or illustrators. In modern Europe, professional disciplines such as botany, geology,
mycology Mycology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of fungus, fungi, including their genetics, genetic and biochemistry, biochemical properties, their Taxonomy (biology), taxonomy and ethnomycology, their use to humans as a source for ti ...
,
palaeontology Paleontology (), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene epoch (geology), epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes th ...
,
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...
, and
zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal kingdom, including the anatomy, structure, embryology, evolution, Biological class ...
were formed. ''Natural history'', formerly the main subject taught by college science professors, was increasingly scorned by scientists of a more specialized manner and relegated to an "amateur" activity, rather than a part of science proper. In Victorian Scotland, the study of natural history was believed to contribute to good mental health. Particularly in Britain and the United States, this grew into specialist hobbies such as the , butterflies, seashells (
malacology Malacology is the branch of invertebrate Invertebrates are animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotr ...
/
conchology Conchology (from grc, κόγχος ''konkhos'', " cockle") is the study of mollusc shell The mollusc (or molluskOften spelled mollusk shell in the USA; the spelling "mollusc" are preferred by ) shell is typically a calcareous exoskeleton ...
), beetles, and wildflowers; meanwhile, scientists tried to define a unified discipline of biology (though with only partial success, at least until the modern evolutionary synthesis). Still, the traditions of natural history continue to play a part in the study of biology, especially ecology (the study of natural systems involving living organisms and the inorganic components of the Earth's biosphere that support them),
ethology Ethology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is ...
(the scientific study of animal behavior), and
evolutionary biology Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interacti ...
(the study of the relationships between life forms over very long periods of time), and re-emerges today as integrative organismal biology. Amateur collectors and natural history entrepreneurs played an important role in building the world's large natural history collections, such as the
Natural History Museum, London The Natural History Museum in London is a natural history museum Skeletons of '' Finnish_Museum_of_Natural_History_in_Helsinki.html" ;"title="Giganotosaurus">Shunosaurus'' (left) and ''Giganotosaurus'' (right) in the Natural History Museum ...

Natural History Museum, London
, and the
National Museum of Natural History The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum Skeletons of '' Finnish_Museum_of_Natural_History_in_Helsinki.html" ;"title="Giganotosaurus">Shunosaurus'' (left) and ''Giganotosaurus'' (right) in the Natural History Museum ...

National Museum of Natural History
in Washington, DC. Three of the greatest English naturalists of the 19th century,
Henry Walter Bates Henry Walter Bates (8 February 1825 in Leicester – 16 February 1892 in London) was an English naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural envi ...

Henry Walter Bates
,
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin (; ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English natural history#Before 1900, naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all sp ...

Charles Darwin
, and
Alfred Russel Wallace Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 18237 November 1913) was a British natural history, naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, biologist and illustrator. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution throug ...
—who knew each other—each made natural history travels that took years, collected thousands of specimens, many of them new to science, and by their writings both advanced knowledge of "remote" parts of the world—the
Amazon basin The Amazon Basin is the part of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern of a single continent called (see the ). Th ...

Amazon basin
, the
Galápagos Islands The Galápagos Islands (official name: , other Spanish language, Spanish name: , , ), part of the Republic of Ecuador, are an archipelago of High island, volcanic islands. They are distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean ...
, and the
Malay archipelago The Malay Archipelago ( ceb, Kapupud-ang Malay, ms, Kepulauan Melayu, tgl, Kapuluang Malay, jv, Nusantara) is the archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of ...

Malay archipelago
, among others—and in so doing helped to transform biology from a descriptive to a theory-based science. The understanding of "Nature" as "an organism and not as a mechanism" can be traced to the writings of
Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a , , , , and proponent of philosophy and . He was the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work ...

Alexander von Humboldt
(Prussia, 1769–1859). Humboldt's copious writings and research were seminal influences for Charles Darwin,
Simón Bolívar Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Ponte Palacios y Blanco ( , also , ; 24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830), also colloquially as '' El Libertador'', or ''Liberator of America'', was a Venezuelan military and political le ...

Simón Bolívar
,
Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817May 6, 1862) was an American naturalist, essay An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a Letter (message), ...

Henry David Thoreau
,
Ernst Haeckel Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (; 16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German zoologist Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is typically regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that stu ...

Ernst Haeckel
, and
John Muir John Muir ( ; April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914), also known as "John of the Mountains" and "Father of the National park, National Parks", was an influential Scottish Americans, Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philos ...

John Muir
. (2015),'' The Invention of Nature'', Knopf


Museums

Natural history
museum A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for and displays a collection (artwork), collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, culture, cu ...

museum
s, which evolved from
cabinets of curiosities , whose tusk, as a Unicorn The unicorn is a legendary creature A legendary or mythological creature, also called fabulous creature and fabulous beast, is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subje ...
, played an important role in the emergence of professional biological disciplines and research programs. Particularly in the 19th century, scientists began to use their natural history collections as teaching tools for advanced students and the basis for their own morphological research.


Societies

The term "natural history" alone, or sometimes together with archaeology, forms the name of many national, regional, and local natural history societies that maintain records for
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...

animal
s (including
birds Birds are a group of s constituting the Aves , characterised by s, toothless beaked jaws, the of eggs, a high rate, a four-chambered , and a strong yet lightweight . Birds live worldwide and range in size from the to the . There ar ...

birds
(ornithology),
insect Insects (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

insect
s (
entomology Entomology () is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. Th ...
) and
mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
s (mammalogy)),
fungi A fungus (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...

fungi
(
mycology Mycology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of fungus, fungi, including their genetics, genetic and biochemistry, biochemical properties, their Taxonomy (biology), taxonomy and ethnomycology, their use to humans as a source for ti ...
), plants (botany), and other organisms. They may also have
geological Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which th ...
and microscope, microscopical sections. Examples of these societies in Britain include the Natural History Society of Northumbria founded in 1829, London Natural History Society (1858), Birmingham Natural History Society (1859), British Entomological and Natural History Society founded in 1872, Glasgow Natural History Society, Manchester Microscopical and Natural History Society established in 1880, Whitby Naturalists' Club founded in 1913, Scarborough Field Naturalists' Society and the Sorby Natural History Society, Sheffield, founded in 1918. The growth of natural history societies was also spurred due to the growth of British colonies in tropical regions with numerous new species to be discovered. Many civil servants took an interest in their new surroundings, sending specimens back to museums in the UK, Britain. (See also: Indian natural history) Societies in other countries include the American Society of Naturalists and Polish Copernicus Society of Naturalists.


See also

* Evolutionary history of life * History of evolutionary thought * Naturalism (philosophy) * Nature documentary * Nature study * Nature writing * Russian naturalists * Timeline of natural history


References


Further reading

* * * Peter Anstey (2011)
''Two Forms of Natural History''

''Early Modern Experimental Philosophy''
* * Farber, Paul Lawrence (2000), ''Finding Order in Nature: The Naturalist Tradition from Linnaeus to E. O. Wilson''. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore. * Kohler, Robert E. (2002), ''Landscapes and Labscapes: Exploring the Lab-Field Border in Biology''. University of Chicago Press: Chicago. * Mayr, Ernst. (1982), ''The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance''. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. * Rainger, Ronald; Keith R. Benson; and Jane Maienschein (eds) (1988), ''The American Development of Biology''. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia.


External links



{{DEFAULTSORT:Natural History Natural history, History of biology History of Earth science History of science Types of museums