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History Snippet- Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius was a 16th-century anatomist and physician. He is referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy due to his research.

He modernised the study of anatomy with his extensive publications containing hundreds of illustrations, making the anatomy easier to comprehend than just plain text.

Vesalius proved ancient greek physician Galen, wrong. Galen conducted primarily animal dissections and the differences in the anatomy between animals and humans went unnoticed for many centuries. Vesalius conducted human dissections, usually criminals condemned to death.

He created charts and diagrams of the circulatory and nervous systems which aided the knowledge of his students. His dissections of the human body highlighted the importance of understanding the structure when it comes to surgery and medicine.

At just 28 years old, Vesalius published ‘De humani corporis fabrica’, this transformed the study of anatomy and is one of the most influential books ever written in the history of medicine. This book contained detailed diagrams of the human body in different poses showing the different muscles and structures.

Vesalius also contributed to the world's oldest surviving anatomical specimen. He assembled and articulated the bones of a skeleton belonging to a deceased criminal. His study of the skeleton revealed that the mandible, the lower jaw, was composed of just one bone. Galen stated it was composed of two, but this was based on animal dissection.

Vesalius also disproved the common belief that men had fewer ribs than women. Vesalius’ work highlighted the importance of human dissection over animal dissection in the medical world. His diagrams and understanding of the human body proved vital in educating future medics.

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