Essay on Week 1

Submitted By apatl57
Words: 580
Pages: 3

Anatomical Terms of Location

Adapted from: http://www.fummo.com/info/Anatomical_terms_of_location.html

Standard anatomical terms of location are employed in sciences which deal with the anatomy

of animals to avoid ambiguities which might otherwise arise. They are not language-specific,

and thus require no translation. They are universal terms that may be readily understood by

zoologists who speak any language.

Unfortunately, while these terms are standardized within specific fields of biology they can differ

dramatically from one discipline to another. Differences in terminology remain a problem that,

to some extent, still separates the fields of zoological anatomy (sometimes called zootomy) and

human (medical) anatomy.

The Craniata (vertebrates) share a substantial heritage of common structure, allowing much

of the same terminology to be used for all of them. It is necessary for this terminology to be

based on the anatomy of the animal in a standard way to avoid ambiguities such as might occur

if a word such as "top" were used, which might designate the head of a human but the left or

right side of a flounder. Most animals, furthermore, are capable of moving relative to their

environment. So while "up" might refer to the direction of a standing human's head, the same

term ("up") might be thought to point the direction to the belly for a supine human (at least, a

sufficiently stout one). It is also necessary to employ some specific anatomical knowledge in

order to apply the terminology unambiguously: E.g. while the ears would be superior to (above)

the shoulders in a human, this fails when describing the armadillo, where the shoulders are above

the ears. Thus in veterinary terminology, the ears would be cranial to (i.e. "towards the head

from") the shoulders in the armadillo, the dog, the kangaroo, or any other vertebrate, including

the human. Similarly, while the belly is considered anterior to (in front of) the back in humans,

this terminology fails for the flounder, the armadillo and the dog (although it could work for

the kangaroo). In veterinary terms, the belly would be ventral ("towards the abdomen") in all

Standard anatomical position

Because animals can change orientation with respect to their environment, and because any

appendages (arms, legs, tentacles, etc.) can change position with respect to the main body, it is

important that any positional descriptive terms refer…