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Anatomy is the branch of biology that deals with the structure and organization of living things. The primary goal of anatomical science is to identify and characterize the physical or internal structure of an organism and any of its parts.

The word anatomy comes from the Greek term anatome, from ana-temnein, meaning to cut up. As indicated by the name, Anatomy is largely based on dissection. Anatomists study the biological structures at the level of the organs, tissue, cell or subcellular. Major branches of anatomy include comparative anatomy, and histology.

Fields of Anatomy

  • Animal Anatomy (Zootomy): Animal anatomy is the study of animals in reference to their dissection. [1]
  • Human Anatomy: Human anatomy usually deals with the observation, expirementation and prediction of morphological structures that makeup the human body. [2]
  • Plant Anatomy (Phytonomy): Plant anatomy is generally considered to primarily be concerned with microscopic structures.

Types of Symmetry

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci
Main Article: Symmetry

Symmetry refers to balance. In nature there are four kinds of symmetry. Spherical, radial, bilateral, and asymmetrical.

  • Bilateral Symmetry: has only one plane along the longitudinal axis that will produce identical halves. All vertebrates exhibit bilateral symmetry.
  • Radial Symmetry: exhibits a circular body plan exhibits a circular arrangement around a central axis. The animal can be cut through the central the axis in more than one plane to produce identical halves. Jellyfish, Anemone, and starfish exhibit radial symmetry.
  • Spherical Symmetry: exhibits a spherical body plan and can be divided into identical halves through any plane which passes through the center.
  • Asymmetrical: has no pattern of symmetry. Sponges are asymmetrical.

Anatomical Directions

Body directions used by anatomists

In humans and animals possessing bilateral symmetry, several terms are used to describe the location of organs and other structures in the body .

Anatomical Chart (1728)
  • Anterior: The top or front end of an organism's body, or at or towards the front.
  • Posterior: The behind or end of an organism, or at or towards the rear.
  • Dorsal: The back of an organism, or on or towards the back.
  • Ventral: The bottom of an organism, or on or at the bottom.
  • Lateral: The sides of an organism.
  • Basal: The bottom of an elongated structure or towards the base.
  • Distal: Towards or at the tip farthest away from the base.

Related References