Meaning of Anatomy

Meaning of Anatomy

Anatomy originates from the Latin anatomy, which, in turn, comes from a Greek term meaning “dissection”. The concept allows us to name the analysis of the conformation, the state and the links of the different sectors of the body of the human being and of other living beings.

Anatomy, therefore, studies the characteristics, location, and interrelationships of the organs that are part of a living organism. This discipline is in charge of developing a descriptive analysis of living beings.

The first anatomical study dates from 1600 BC and is recorded on an Egyptian papyrus. Through it is that we can know that this ancient civilization had important knowledge regarding viscera and human structure, although little did they know how each organ worked.

The one who increased knowledge in this branch was Aristotle, in the 4th century BC. At that time the first dissections of human corpses were carried out and, thanks to them, the functioning of the different parts of the organism could be known.

Later, the Romans and the Arabs advanced a little more and, later, during the Renaissance, new studies emerged that became known as modern anatomy that was based, not only on the writings of a few thousand years ago but on actual observation that various scientists carried out, including Andrés Vesalio, one of the key representatives of this science.

Various classifications

According to its approach, it is possible to divide anatomy into clinical or applied anatomy (links a diagnosis to a treatment), descriptive or systematic anatomy (divides the organism into systems), regional or topographic anatomy (appeals to spatial separations), anatomy physiological or functional (focuses on organic functions) or pathological anatomy (specialized in organ damage), among others.

In turn, according to the type of organisms studied by this science, it can be called plant anatomy and animal anatomy.

Plant anatomy, also known as plant anatomy, is a branch of botany that is responsible for studying the internal structure of species that belong to the Plantae Kingdom. This science includes the study of organisms starting at the cellular level and covering both tissues and bone structure.

Animal anatomy, on the other hand, can be subdivided into human, animal and comparative anatomy. The first two are those that study each species (humans or other animals) according to the behavior of their cells and organs. The comparative anatomy is the one that complements the first two and allows establishing similarities and differences between different types of living beings in the Animal Kingdom.

The human anatomy, as its name implies, is dedicated to the study of the structures of the human body. In general, it is oriented to knowledge about macroscopic structures, since other disciplines (such as histology or cytology) are in charge of minor elements, such as cells or tissues. The human body can be understood as an organization of structures at different levels: molecules that form cells, cells that make up tissues, tissues that establish organs, organs that are integrated into systems, etc.

It is worth mentioning that anatomy can also focus on the study of biological processes such as the development of life (through the study of embryos) or the pathologies that individuals of a species may suffer (studying diseased organs to detect patterns of common diseases among living beings of the same).

On the other hand, there are also surgical anatomy (it is in charge of studying the best ways to perform operations on the various organs) and artistic anatomy (it is in charge of the anatomical issues related to the representation of the human figure in art), which allow connect anatomy with other activities. In turn, anatomy can be named taking into account the techniques used for its study, such is the case of microanatomy.


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