Science and Inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci - Natural Science - Human Anatomy - Dissection


As Leonardo became successful as an artist, he was given permission to dissect human corpses at the hospital Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. Later he dissected in Milan at the hospital Maggiore and in Rome at the hospital Santo Spirito (the first mainland Italian hospital). From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated in his studies with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre.

I have removed the skin from a man who was so shrunk by illness that the muscles were worn down and remained in a state like thin membrane, in such a way that the sinews instead of merging in muscles ended in wide membrane; and where the bones were covered by the skin they had very little over their natural size.

In 30 years, Leonardo dissected 30 male and female corpses of different ages. Together with Marcantonio, he prepared to publish a theoretical work on anatomy and made more than 200 drawings. However, his book was published only in 1680 (161 years after his death) under the heading Treatise on painting.

Among the detailed images that Leonardo drew are many studies of the human skeleton. He was the first to describe the double S form of the backbone. He also studied the inclination of pelvis and sacrum and stressed that sacrum was not uniform, but composed of five fused vertebrae.

Leonardo was a physiologist as well as an anatomist, studying the function of the human body as well as examining and recording its structure. He dissected and drew the human skull and cross-sections of the brain, transversal, sagittal, and frontal. These drawings may be linked to a search for the sensus communis, the locus of the human senses, which, by Medieval tradition, was located at the exact physical center of the skull.

Leonardo studied internal organs, being the first to draw the human appendix and the lungs, mesentery, urinary tract, reproductive organs, the muscles of the cervix and a detailed cross-section of coitus. He was one of the first to draw a scientific representation of the fetus in the intrautero.

Leonardo studied the vascular system and drew a dissected heart in detail. He correctly worked out how heart valves ebb the flow of blood yet he did not fully understand circulation as he believed that blood was pumped to the muscles where it was consumed. In 2005 a UK heart surgeon, Francis Wells, from Papworth Hospital Cambridge, pioneered repair to damaged hearts, using Leonardo's depiction of the opening phase of the mitral valve to operate without changing its diameter allowing an individual to recover more quickly. Wells said "Leonardo had a depth of appreciation of the anatomy and physiology of the body - its structure and function - that perhaps has been overlooked by some."

Leonardo's observational acumen, drawing skill, and the clarity of depiction of bone structures reveal him at his finest as an anatomist. However, his depiction of the internal soft tissues of the body are incorrect in many ways, showing that he maintained concepts of anatomy and functioning that were in some cases millennia old, and that his investigations were probably hampered by the lack of preservation techniques available at the time. Leonardo's detailed drawing of the internal organs of a woman reveal many traditional misconceptions.

Leonardo's study of human anatomy led also to the design of the first known robot in recorded history. The design, which has come to be called Leonardo's robot, was probably made around the year 1495 but was rediscovered only in the 1950s.

Read more about this topic:  Science And Inventions Of Leonardo Da Vinci, Natural Science, Human Anatomy

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