Is Natural History a History?

Natural history is a branch of science that deals with the study of organisms, including plants, animals, and fungi, in their natural environment. It aims to understand the history of life on Earth and its diversity. The question that arises here is whether natural history is a history in itself?

What is History?

Before we answer this question, let’s first understand what we mean by “history.” History is the study of past events, particularly in human affairs. It involves studying the sequence of events that led to significant changes in society or culture.

Natural History as a History

When it comes to natural history, it can be argued that it does not fit the traditional definition of history. This is because natural history deals with the study of organisms in their natural environment rather than human affairs.

However, if we broaden our definition of history to include the study of past events in general, then natural history can be considered a type of history. Naturalists use fossils and other evidence to reconstruct the evolutionary history of organisms and their interactions with each other and their environment.

The Importance of Natural History

Regardless of whether or not we consider natural history as a form of traditional historical study, its importance cannot be overlooked. The knowledge gained from studying organisms and their interactions with each other and their environment has significant implications for fields such as ecology, conservation biology, medicine, and agriculture.

Furthermore, understanding the evolutionary history and diversity of life on Earth can provide insights into our own place within this complex web of life.

The Role of Natural History Museums

Natural history museums play an essential role in preserving specimens for future generations to study. They also serve as valuable educational resources for people interested in learning more about the natural world.

Many museums feature exhibits that showcase the diversity of life on Earth throughout time. Visitors can see fossils from extinct species like dinosaurs and learn about the evolutionary relationships between different groups of organisms.


In conclusion, while natural history may not fit the traditional definition of history, it is still a valuable branch of science that provides insights into the history and diversity of life on Earth. Its importance cannot be overstated, and we should continue to support research and education in this field.