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Anatomy

Anatomy (from the Greek anatome, from ana-temnein, to cut up), is the branch of biology that deals with the structure and organization of living things; thus there is animal anatomy (zootomy[?]) and vegetable anatomy (phytotomy[?]). The major branches of anatomy include comparative anatomy[?] and human anatomy.

Animal anatomy may include the study of the structure of different animals, when it is called comparative anatomy[?] or animal morphology[?], or it may be limited to one animal only, in which case it is spoken of as special anatomy.

From a utilitarian point of view the study of Man is the most important division of special anatomy, and this human anatomy may be approached from different points of view. From that of the medical man it consists of a knowledge of the exact form, position, size and relationship of the various structures of the human body in health, and to this study the term descriptive or topographical human anatomy is given, though it is often, less happily, spoken of as Anthropotomy.

An accurate knowledge of all the details of the human body takes years of patient observation to gain and is possessed by only a few. So intricate is man's body that only a small number of professional human anatomists are complete masters of all its details, and most of them specialize on certain parts, such as the brain, viscera, &c.; contenting themselves with a good working knowledge of the rest. Topographical anatomy must be learned by each person for himself by the repeated dissection and inspection of the dead human body. It is no more a science than a pilot's knowledge is, and, like that knowledge, must be exact and available in moments of emergency.

From the morphological point of view, however, human anatomy is a scientific and fascinating study, having for its object the discovery of the causes which have brought about the existing structure of Man, and needing a knowledge of the allied sciences of embryology or ontogeny, phylogeny, and histology.

Pathological anatomy (or morbid anatomy) is the study of diseased organs, while sections of normal anatomy, applied to various purposes, receive special names such as medical, surgical, gynaecological, artistic and superficial anatomy. The comparison of the anatomy of different races of mankind is part of the science of physical anthropology or anthropological anatomy. In the present edition of this work the subject of anatomy is treated systematically rather than topographically. Each anatomical article contains first a description of the structures of an organ or system (such as nerves, arteries, heart, &c.), as itis found in Man; and this is followed by an account of the development or embryology and comparative anatomy or morphology, as far as vertebrate animals are concerned; but only those parts of the lower animals which are of interest in explaining Man's structure are here dealt with. The articles have a twofold purpose; first, to give enough details of man's structure to make the articles on physiology, surgery, medicine and pathology intelligible; and, secondly, to give the non-expert inquirer, or the worker in some other branch of science, the chief theories on which the modern scientific groundwork of anatomy is built.

Free Anatomy Atlas

See also: History of anatomy, Organ (anatomy), Superficial anatomy, List of human anatomical features, Terms for anatomical location.


There is a historical type of English poetry called an anatomy, or more precisely an amatory anatomy[?]. It is a love sonnet dedicated to describing the parts of a lover's anatomy, usually female.



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