The discovery of the animal cell is credited to Robert Hooke, an English scientist, and polymath, who first observed and described the structure of cells in 1665. Hooke used a microscope to examine a thin slice of cork and noticed that it was made up of small compartments, which he called “cells.”
However, it was German scientist Theodore Schwann who made a significant contribution to the study of animal cells in the early 19th century. Schwann proposed the cell theory, which stated that all living organisms are made up of cells and that cells are the basic unit of life.
He also discovered the process of fermentation and isolated the first enzyme, diastase. Schwann’s work laid the foundation for the modern understanding of cell biology and the concept of cells as the building blocks of life
Hooke’s observations and descriptions of cells laid the foundation for the development of cell theory, which states that all living organisms are made up of one or more cells and that the cell is the basic unit of life. Hooke’s work also paved the way for further discoveries in cell biology and the development of the microscope as a tool for scientific research.
It is worth mentioning that Hooke’s contemporary and countryman, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, independently discovered the same thing, and was the first person to observe and describe the movement of microorganisms, including bacteria and protozoa, which he referred to as “animalcules”.