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Art & Design

Written by Justine Aka

Leonardo da Vinci and “the fish of the arm”

The main article: You know Leonardo da Vinci, his drawings and paintings. But were you aware of the role he plays for today’s Anatomists? If Leonardo had published his planned treatise of his drawings from human dissections in the 1500s, he would have changed the basics of the anatomical knowledge and played a major role in the history of anatomical discoveries. However, Leonardo died before he could publish his works and they remained undiscovered for hundreds of years.

Leonardo’s anatomical research by dissection was the first of its kind. The picture shows one of da Vinci’s impressively detailed drawings with his accompanying, translated, marginal notes. Reading the text you will find that Leonardo named the muscle we call today biceps brachii “the fish of the arm” and the coracoid process “the beak of the scapula”.

If Leonardo da Vinci had published his treatise, we would probably be using very different anatomical terminology, and would have known about the precise anatomy for a much longer time.

The precision of da Vinci’s work is overwhelming and its correctness as accurate as the most modern technological anatomical visualizations. The work of a true genius.

Exhibited at the Queens Gallery, Edinburgh, UK until 10th November 2013.

Right Upper Limb
Right Upper Limb
(Image by: Image taken from: “Leonardo da Vinci-The Mechanics of Man” by M Clayton and R Philo. 2013. p.133)

Tags: Leonardo da Vinci, Historical Anatomy Art, Anatomy Terminology, Drawings

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