Nearly three-quarters of a century before Bacon published this advice, a major change had already occurred in anatomy, the natural science closest to the study of human evolution. That change was the work of Andreas Vesalius. Born in 1514 in what is now Belgium, Vesalius finished his medical studies in 1537. In the same year he was appointed to teach anatomy and surgery in Padua, Italy.
Vesalius' own anatomy education was typical for the time. The professor sat in his chair (hence professorships are called 'chairs') and read out loud from the only locally available textbook. He sat at a safe distance from a human body that was being dissected by his assistant. It did not take long for Vesalius to realize that he and his fellow students were being told one thing by their professor, and were being shown something else by the professor's assistant. In
1540 Vesalius visited Bologna where, for the first time, he was able to compare the skeletons of a monkey and a human. He realized the textbooks used by his professors were based on a confusing mixture of human, monkey, and dog anatomy, so he resolved to write his own, accurate, human anatomy book. The result, the seven-volume De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem, or 'On the Fabric of the Human Body', was published in 1543. Vesalius performed the dissections and sketched the drafts of the illustrations: the Fabrica is one of the great achievements in the history of biology. Vesalius' successful efforts to make anatomy more rigorous ensured that scientists would have access to reliable information about the structure of the human body.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.