Although the concept of biology as a special natural science originated in the XIX century, biological branches originated earlier in medicine and natural history. Usually, the main aspects of biology are formed by such ancient scholars as Aristotle and Galen through the Arab physicians Al-Jahiz, ibn-Sina, Ibn Zuhr and Ibn al-Nafis. During the Renaissance era, biological ideas in Europe have actualized thanks to the invention of typography and the spread of printed works, interest in experimental research and the discovery of many new species of animals and plants in the era of great geographical discoveries.
At that time, outstanding minds Andrei Vesalius and William Garvey worked, who laid the foundations of modern anatomy and physiology. Somewhat later, Linnaeus and Buffon did a great job of classifying the forms of living and fossil creatures. Microscopy has opened up the prior unspecified world of microorganisms for observation, laying the foundation for the cell theory development. The development of science, partly due to the emergence of a mechanistic philosophy, contributed to the development of natural history.
By the beginning of the XIX century, some modern biological branches, such as botany and zoology, had reached the professional level. Lavoisier and other chemists and physicists began a rapprochement of the concepts of animate and inanimate nature. Naturalists, such as Alexander von Humboldt, discovered the interaction of organisms with the surrounding and its dependence on geography, underlining the establishments of biogeography, ecology and ethology.
In the 19th century, the development of evolution theory gradually led to an understanding of the role of extinction and species variability, and cell theory showed in a new light the basis of the structure of living matter. In combination with the data of embryology and paleontology, these achievements have allowed Charles Darwin to create a holistic theory of evolution by natural selection. The end of the XIX century saw the ideas of abiogenesis finally which gave way to the theory of the infectious agent as the causative diseases’ agent. But the mechanism of inheritance of parental signs still remained a mystery.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Thomas Morgan and his students rediscovered the laws studied by Gregor Mendel in the middle of the 19th century, after which genetics began to develop rapidly. By the 1930s, a combination of population genetics and the theory of natural selection gave rise to modern evolutionary theory or neo-Darwinism. Due to the development of biochemistry, enzymes were discovered and a grandiose work began on the description of all metabolic processes. The disclosure of DNA structure by Watson and Crick gave a powerful impetus to the development of molecular biology. It was followed by the postulation of the central dogma, the deciphering of the genetic code, and by the end of the 20th century – and the complete deciphering of the human genetic code and several other organisms most important for medicine and agriculture.
Due to this, new disciplines of genomics and proteomics appeared. Although the increase in the number of disciplines and the extreme complexity of the subject of biology have given rise to and continue to give rise to an increasingly narrow specialization among biologists, biology continues to be a single science, and data from each of the biological branches, especially genomics, are applicable to all others.
Category: General Issues
Tags: biology, science