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An overview of Anatomy, its types and their applications
Anatomy is the identification and description of the structure of an organism. It is a field of biology and medicine which plays an important role in medical education and research. Anatomy is the oldest scientific discipline of medicine, whose origin relates to the ancient Greeks thousands of years ago. A systematic study of anatomy was initiated by the Greek scientists Arcmeon and Empedocles and the former was the first person to have an autopsy on the human body. Erasistratus and Herophilos first practised the human anatomy of convicted criminals, so they conducted the first scientific research to discover how human anatomy works.
What is Anatomy?
Anatomy, derived from the Greek word anatomē meaning "dissection", is the study of the body’s structure i.e the organs, bones, and cells that are found in animals and humans. It includes the appearance and location of the various parts, the materials that make them up, their location, and their relationships with other parts.
Anatomy is different from physiology or biochemistry. For example, anatomists study just the shape, size, location, structure, blood supply, and innervation of organs such as the liver, but the role and functions are dealt with by physiologists.
Types of Anatomy
On the basis of the organism to be dealt with, anatomy has three main divisions:
Animal Anatomy — Zootomy
Plant Anatomy — Phytotomy
Human Anatomy: Human anatomy is the study of the human body structures such as muscles, heart, brain, bladder, and kidneys including various bodily systems such as cardiovascular, respiratory etc.
This area of anatomy is an important aspect of medical education and training. It is divided into gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy.
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Animal Anatomy or Zootomy: Zootomy is a branch of Zoology, which refers to studying the shape and structure of animals such as mice and monkeys’ organs (brain, heart, etc.) and their organ systems including respiratory cardiovascular systems amongst others.
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Plant Anatomy or Phytotomy: Phytotomy is a branch of Botany, which refers to the general term for studying the internal structure of a plant. It is studied at the cellular level, tissues, root system, stem, leaves, flower, fruit and seeds often including tissue sectioning and microscopy.
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Classification of Anatomy
On the basis of the level of structures to be studied, anatomy is broadly classified into two categories:
Microscopic Anatomy or Histology
Macroscopic anatomy or Gross Anatomy
Microscopic Anatomy or Histology: Histology, is the field of biology related to the composition and structure of tissues of an organism in relation to their specialized functions. Microscopic anatomy is the study of cells and tissues as seen under a microscope. People who specialize in this study are called histologists.
Mark cells and tissues, divide them into sections and observe under a microscope. Biological specimens are sliced thinly and stained to improve visibility and highlight important structures. Microscopic anatomy is useful for studying and comparing different types of organisms and their structures.
Macroscopic anatomy or Gross Anatomy: Gross Anatomy, is the study of the structure of living organisms at the visible or macroscopic level that is visible to the naked eye and is large enough to inspect without using magnification. It is used for studying information about the structural organisation of an organism. E.g. Endoscopy.
What is the difference between Anatomy and Physiology?
Anatomy refers to the internal and external structures of the body and their physical relationships, and physiology refers to the study of the function of these structures.
Anatomy studies the body and its structures.
Physiology is the study of the function of the body and its various parts together
Anatomy shows how different parts of the body are structured and how they are categorised into groups of different structures and designs
Physiology explains the function of the different body parts, and how their function affects and works with different parts of the body to form one body, one person
Anatomy knowledge is helpful to detect, study, diagnose diseases and other medical issues and is helpful in understanding the body better.
Physiology is helpful for researchers to understand the functions that our body performs and is capable of.
The human skeleton is an example of anatomy that is different in males and females, both of which consist of bony structures.
The physiology of the human skeleton is to create support for the body while also using nutrients stored within bones themselves to carry out bodily functions.
What is the importance of Anatomy?
Understand all structures of the body and functions (physiology) of all organ systems.
Know the subject of structural and functional changes in body tissues and organs caused by illness.
Examination and the identification of abnormalities.
Perform surgery on body parts by surgeons
Understand birth defects and many childhood illnesses.
Applications of Anatomy
Histology slides are often used to describe the microstructure of living cells and tissues. Analysis of tissue samples can provide important information about the underlying infection or illness.
It is very useful for an autopsy because it can identify the exact cause of death.
Used to diagnose specific cancer cells and biopsies.
Gross anatomy is used to study various organs in detail as in endoscopy, for the body cavity of an organism; angiography to check the blood circulation of the human body.
The internal structure and organs of a living body are examined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-rays.
Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body i.e the organs, bones, and cells that are found in animals and humans. It includes the appearance and location of the various parts, the materials that make them up, their location, and their relationships with other parts.
Macroscopic anatomy or Gross Anatomy is used to study various organs in detail as in endoscopy, for the body cavity of an organism; angiography to check the blood circulation of the human body.
Microscopic anatomy is useful for studying and comparing different types of organisms and their structures.
1. What is the relationship between anatomy and physiology?
Ans. The relationship between anatomy and physiology is that they are always interrelated. Here, anatomy is the study of actual physical organs and their structures, and how they relate to each other. Physiology is studying how these organs function to make the whole body function as an organ system.
2. What are the types of anatomy?
Ans. It can be classified into macroscopic and microscopic anatomy. Macroscopic or gross anatomy can be studied with the naked eye, whereas microscopic anatomy refers to the study at the cellular level.
3. Who is the father of Anatomy?
Ans. Herophilos, a Greek physician was the father of anatomy
4. What is systemic anatomy?
Ans. Systemic anatomy is the study of the structures working as a group to perform a unique physical function.
Nega Assefa and Yosief Tsige, 2003. Anatomy and Physiology. (ed. 1). The Carter Center.
Bay, N. S.-Y., et al. (2010). Greek anatomist Herophilos: The father of anatomy.
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