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The term anatomy is derived from the Greek - anatemno means “to cut open” and is the study of structure of living beings. The father of anatomy is Charaka. On the basis of subject of study, it is divided into many types like plant anatomy, animal anatomy, human anatomy, etc. It is included as an important field of medicine and biology as structure dictates function and diseases.

It is further divided into two types on the basis of size of structure under investigation.

  1. Macroscopic anatomy: This includes study of structures that can be seen with naked eye. It involves suitable presentation of structures by dissection and then close investigation of their biochemical and histological parameters.
  2. Microscopic anatomy: This includes study of structures that cannot be seen with a naked eye. This requires microscopes of different kinds like light microscope, dark field microscopy, fluorescent microscopy, electron microscopy, etc. The complexity of the technique increases with the decreasing size of the structure to be studied.
  3. It involves 2 major investigations:
    1. Histology or microanatomy: It is the study of tissues.
    2. Cytology: It is the study of cells.

Generally, students of medical sciences, paramedical sciences, therapists, natural sciences and nursing study anatomy as a integral part of their course curriculum due to its high importance. They learn from text books, pictures, animations, models, presentations and videos available easily. Medical students also study the structures by dissecting models and cadavers. Study of microanatomy involves making slides using sectioning and mounting techniques and visualizing using a suitable microscope.


As per the subject based classification, anatomy involves study of-

  1. Human anatomy: study of human organs, tissues and cells. Study of molecular events inside the cell is not a part of anatomy and is known as molecular biology. This involves dissection of visceral organs. Isolating the stem cells using suitable probe based markers also involves histological intervention. Study of surface of organs is known as superficial anatomy. Superficial anatomy involves study of various contours or patterns associated with a particular structure.
  2. Plant anatomy: study of various structures of plants. It involves hydrolyzing the tough outer covering or cell wall using various enzymes or other mechanical methods.
  3. Animal anatomy: It is the study of anatomy of various animals like birds, reptiles, fishes, vertebrates and invertebrates.

Anatomy is further divided into various types like:

  1. Comparative anatomy: study and comparison of anatomical structures of various kinds of animals.
  2. Artistic anatomy: study of anatomy for reasons related to art.
  3. Anthropological anatomy: study and comparison of anatomical structures of humans belonging to different races.