What is anatomy?

Anatomy is the field of study that focuses on the identification and understanding how living things work. It is often associated with medicine and biology. The study of anatomy is ancient, spanning over 2,000 years back to the Ancient Greeks. Because of how broad the study is, it can be further divided into three categories, which include: human anatomy, animal anatomy and plant anatomy. Though there some overlap in structure between certain organisms, human anatomy is the most studied in order to further scientific progress in health and medicine.


The word itself has Greek roots. The root “ana” means “up”, and the root “tome” means, “cutting”. Together, the study of anatomy is described as cutting up, otherwise known as dissection. This was how anatomy was studied in ancient times, but thanks to modern technology, it is now becoming increasingly easier to study the body without invasive procedures.

Divisions of Study

The study of macro anatomy is a type of topographical study that focuses on what biological structures can be easily seen by the naked eye. Endoscopy, on the other hand, is the internal study of anatomy, using a tiny camera to observe living structures inside humans and animals. Numerous other techniques are designed to observe such structures, including magnetic resonance imaging, otherwise known as an MRI, computed tomographies, or CT scans, and x-rays.

Modern Advancement

Through the study of anatomy, medical professionals have been able to map 11 systems in the human body. These include systems such as the integumentary system, which governs the skin, hair and nails and the endocrine system, which regulates overall hormone production. Understanding how the different systems work together to function in the body can help professionals determine treatment and care plans to optimize an individual’s health. With further advancements in imaging technology, it becomes easier for professionals to learn more about the human anatomy. Similarly, such advancements can also help optimize long-term plant and animal health in a variety of industries.