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A History of Comparative Anatomy

Nature volume 154, pages 563564 (04 November 1944) | Download Citation



INTEREST in the structure of animals must have occupied the mind of man from remote antiquity, ever since they were the object of the chase and required to be prepared for food. Even palæolithic man indicated the surface anatomy of vital organs in his mural paintings of animals, and occasionally exercised his artistic propensities in making exquisite carvings of the flayed heads of horses, depicting the muscles with remarkable precision. From time immemorial, also, primitive communities have shown the liveliest interest in the individual variations of the visceral anatomy of domestic animals, using these variations as omens on which to base decisions of policy. But the study of comparative anatomy, which is essentially the search for common denominators in organic structure, is a scientific method, and could only be the product of philosophic inquiry into the meaning of life and living things.

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