Human Anatomy

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Human anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine about the study of the structure of body parts and their relationships to one another. It is the study of the biological systems of the body, which consist of organs, tissues, and cells. Humans and many other animals are called vertebrates due to a segmented backbone or spine. Some specializations within anatomy are

  • Gross (macroscopic) anatomy focus body parts visible to the eye, like heart or bones.
  • Histology is the study of tissues at the microscopic level.
  • Cytology is the study of cells at the microscopic level.
  • Neurophysiology is the study of how the nervous system functions.

Living systems can be defined from various perspectives, from the broad (looking at the entire earth) to the minute (individual atoms). Each perspective provides information about how or why a living system functions:

  • At the chemical level, atoms, molecules (combinations of atoms), and the chemical bonds between atoms provide the framework upon which all living activity is based.
  • The cell is the smallest unit of life. Organelles within the cell are specialized bodies performing specific cellular functions. Cells themselves may be specialized. Thus, there are nerve cells, bone cells, and muscle cells.
  • A tissue is a group of similar cells performing a common function. Muscle tissue, for example, consists of muscle cells.
  • An organ is a group of different kinds of tissues working together to perform a particular activity. The heart is an organ composed of muscle, nervous, connective, and epithelial tissues.
  • An organ system is two or more organs working together to accomplish a particular task. The digestive system, for example, involves the coordinated activities of many organs, including the mouth, stomach, small and large intestines, pancreas, and liver.
  • An organism is a system possessing the characteristics of living things—the ability to obtain and process energy, the ability to respond to environmental changes, and the ability to reproduce.



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