Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Anatomical planes of orientation

Right so I meant to write this post earlier but then packing and organizing and cooking dinner got in the way. So here we are, it's almost midnight on Christmas Eve.

It's important to mention the anatomical planes so that when I describe how I make the "Slice" series of linocuts everyone understands the vocabulary I use.

Almost every creature is divided by scientists into directional planes. This is so that everyone can communicate about the anatomy of various creatures. Some of the words used are the same or similar for many different organisms, which can help scientists, anatomists, dr's, whoever, to find analogous structures in different creatures (this is especially useful in evolutionary biology where you compare the structure and function of various body parts to understand how life has formed over eons). For the most part, the planes of the bodies of mammals are the same words. This is makes anatomy and research using non-human animals easier to compare to humans. Ok, on to the planes themselves.

The easiest way to understand planes is to imagine that a giant guillotine is making a slice (this is in essence what anatomical dissections do, and why we need these words). So the coronal plane, which divides the body into ventral and dorsal (belly and back) sections would be a blade slicing through the skull parallel to the eyes. (It may help to look at the awesome wikipedia for illustrations). The sagittal plane is perpendicular to the coronal plane. It separates the body into right and left sections. Imagine a blade slicing through your nose, perpendicular to your eyes. These are the two most important planes for now.

To recap: coronal sections would slice with the blade parallel to the eyes, so in essence would slice the tip of the nose first (on a human), then the nose off, then the forehead and lips, etc. These kinds of sections would give details on the structures from front to back in a skull (where they are, where they are in relation to other structures, size, and what they look like etc). Sagittal sections would first slice off an ear, then one side of the whole head perpendicular to the eyes. These kinds of sections would give information on the different halves of a skull, and what particular features look like going from right to left or from outside to inside.

Hmm, I hope this makes sense. May edit in the future with some illustrations.

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