A generation or two before Socrates, thinkers classified the world's organisms into three categories: plants, animals, and man. However, Aristotle recognized that some organisms, such as sponges and sea-fans, share properties of both plants and animals. These became known as zoophytes. Since then, scientists have explored the idea of a "third kingdom". In Kingdoms, Empires, and Domains, leading molecular systematist Mark A. Ragan offers a history of the idea that there is more to the living world than plants and animals.
Progressing chronologically through philosophical, religious, literary, and other pre-scientific traditions, Ragan traces how transgressive creatures such as sponges, corals, algae, fungi, and diverse microscopic beings have been described, categorized, and understood throughout history. The book considers their appearance in early Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions; myths, legends, and traveller's tales; occult literature; and more. Kingdoms, Empires, and Domains also details how the concept of a "third kingdom" has evolved throughout the history of scientific botany and zoology, and continues to evolve up to the present day.
Kingdoms, Empires, and Domains features original translations of passages from key historical texts, many of which have never appeared in English before. It also draws on the most recent and reliable scientific literature. A sweeping, interdisciplinary study, Kingdoms, Empires, and Domains is essential reading for students and scholars of the history of biological classification and anyone interested in the history of ideas about the natural world.
Illustrations and table
Acknowledgment: copyrighted material
Chapter 1. The Earliest Nature
Chapter 2. Eastern Nature
Chapter 3. Philosophical Nature
Chapter 4. Utilitarian Nature
Chapter 5. Neoplatonic Nature
Chapter 6. Christian Nature
Chapter 7. Islamic and Jewish Nature
Chapter 8. Monastic and Scholastic Nature
Chapter 9. Nature's Mystic Book
Chapter 10. Allegory, Myth, and Superstition
Chapter 11. The Return of the Zoophyte
Chapter 12. Plants and Animals
Chapter 13. The Most Wretched Creatures
Chapter 14. Continuity in the Living World
Chapter 15. Classifying God's Handiwork
Chapter 16. Beyond the End of the Chain
Chapter 17. From Histoire Naturelle to Anatomie and Morphologie
Chapter 18. Naturphilosophie, Polygastric Animalcules, and Cells
Chapter 19: Green Matter, Zoospores, and Diatoms
Chapter 20: Temples of Nature
Chapter 21: Ernst Haeckel and Protista
Chapter 22: Beyond Three Kingdoms
Chapter 23: Genes, Genomes, and Domains
Appendix: Victorian Popular Natural Histories
Index of names
Index of subjects
Mark A. Ragan is an emeritus professor at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at the University of Queensland. From 2000 to 2014, he served as the founding head of IMB's Genomics and Computational Biology division. He concurrently served as the founding director of the Australian Research Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and later co-founded QFAB Informatics. Ragan is co-author of A Biochemical Phylogeny of the Protists (Academic Press, 1978) and numerous peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Cell, Nature, Nature Communications, Nature Microbiology, PNAS, and more. He is a former president and an honorary lifetime member of the International Seaweed Association and is currently a senior fellow of the Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society.