(Story -- We adopted Peejo from the
Washington Humane Society in early 1998. His breed is a form of Chow-Chow. These dogs were bred to protect the Empresses of China. Soo. what to name him? I had some friends in Beijing, and called them. As the puppy looked like a bear, I asked over the poor telephone connection what the chinese (mandarin) name was for "Bear". Unfortunately, my friends misheard me, or choose to mishear me. When I told chinese friends here that we had gotten the name "Peejo", they laughed uproariously. "Peejo" is not mandarin for Bear, it is mandarin for "Beer". So, I have a dog named Beer.)


It is thought that life began as amino acids seeded into the oceans of Earth, perhaps by comets. You would think that humanity then would have had a historical fascination for our ancestry, about different species and their origin. You couldn't have been more wrong.

In ancient Greece,
science was based on logical thinking and mathematics. But even in Greece and further east, not much was known about Biology other than the effects of certain herbs, plants and foods on health, smell and taste.

Up until the 18th century, science in the west was rather limited by its implications on religion.

When it came to other life, it was simply man and beast. The idea of being interested in animals as a way of learning about ourselves was almost unheard of. There were pseudosciences such as Astrology, Alchemy and Creationism. This page is an amazing list of things we've dreamed up.

Plant Life Diversity

In the renaissance of knowledge, as we learned about our planet, about health, and nutrition, we had started to take an interest in "other life". First, the science of Botany started to form studying the impact and relationship of plants, foods and health. Whole industries were quickly developed -- the Tulip industry in Holland, the Perfume industry. Spices, tea and coffee became the rage. In fact, the drive and desired for spices led the demand for human exploration as much as the desire for precious metals. (I can't tell you how many cups of Coffee I have drunk trying to make this section comprehensible).

A Field of Tulips

There were three men identified as the founders of Botany:
Leonhart Fuchs, Otto Brunfels and Hieronumus Bock. I think this is funny (and ironic), as women had known about special qualities of plants and herbs for centuries but few men paid them heed. Occasionally, we even burned some women as witches if their knowledge scared us.

A Rooster and a Hen

As we gained knowledge about plant life, our attention turned towards animals. Animals had been considered merely work creatures: horses to tame, ride and pull, chickens, goats, cows and sheep, for food, dogs to protect us and cats to kill vermin (and make me sneeze). Each of these types of Animals could consume an interested student for their entire career. I merely skim the surface.

How people treat animals so badly is still the case in many parts of the world, where pets are considered a ridiculous folly, and you would be shocked to see how animals are treated. There are
organizations set up to protect animals in the west, but lets just say we have a long way to go.




By the mid 18th century, our knowledge -- if not our behavior and attitude towards animals -- was about to change. We would still be a horse-based transportation society for another 150 years. We would still use dogs for work and sports for almost 200. But we were starting to learn.

Once again, there is no way to cover Biology and Other Life in a single web page or two, but I hope to whet your appetite and with the links, direct you on a fascinating path. As I researched this section, I found myself learning an incredible amount, but basically, I have had to organize the material into two sections. First, a background about how we came to classify species, and second, how we came to understand their Origin.