History of Veterinary Anatomy
Singh and R.S. Chauhan
College of Veterinary Sciences, G.B. Pant University of Agriculture
Pantnagar – 263 145 (Uttaranchal) India.
originally appeared in Advances in Veterinary Anatomy. 2001.
Edited by Dr. GK Singh and Dr. RS Chauhan)
Anatomy is a basic subject of veterinary curriculum
which deals with normal architecture of the body including both gross
and microscopic features of a normal individual. Thus, it forms a
sound basis for proper understanding of other preclinical and clinical
subjects specially physiology, pathology, surgery, gynecology,
medicine, meat science and paves way for learning clinical techniques
for proper diagnosis and treatments of various ailments. Modern
science developed and perpetuated after the 19th century
but the knowledge of anatomy existed much before particularly in
ancient India. A retrospect in ancient Indian culture candidly reveals
the glorious past of Medical and Veterinary Sciences in India. The
ancient Indians were forerunners in science; however, the accurate
records of that time are difficult to discover due to peculiar system
of passing information from generation to generation through oral
discourses. Whatever information is available is inscribed in
‘Sanskrit’ language which, unfortunately, has lost popularity in the
developing society in this era. Yet we have tried our best to cite the
old literature from authentic sources such as Vedas, Samhitas,
Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. which command global esteem.
In ancient India, the medical and veterinary sciences
are described in ‘Ayurveda’ which has been divided into four
disciplines as under:
Virkchayurveda for plants
Tiryagayurveda for living beings such as reptiles, wild animals.
Gavayurved, Ashwahyurveda, Hatsyayurveda for cattle, horses and
for human beings.
Ayurveda is the science of life which aims to protect
the health of a healthy person and to remove the diseases. The ancient
literature describes emergence of Dhanwantari carrying “Amrit Kalash”
through churning of the sea. He is considered as ‘God’ of Ayurveda.
This Amrit, the divine medicinal preparation is considered to
safeguard the ‘Devtas’ against death, diseases and aging. The period
of Dhanwantari is Kartik Krishna Triyodashi 2500 BC. He described the
Ayurveda into 8 chapters including ‘Shalya’ means surgery and ‘Kaya
Chikitsa’ means Anatomy. The Kashyap Samhita, a treatise on medicine
written by Maharshi Kashyap described ailments of various organs and
systems of body in a question answer pattern. This book was revised by
Jeevak, a renounced medical practitioner as “Vridha Jeevakiya Tantra”
comprising of 8 parts including “Shalya (Surgery) and Sharirik
(Anatomical) Chikitsa which is known as “Ashtang Ayurveda”. This
publication contains 200 chapters on various aspects such as
diagnosis, therapy, anatomy, physiology etc. This book is available in
National Library of Nepal.
The descriptions of Ayurveda are given in Atharveda
which mention the practice of dissecting animals after ritual
sacrifice in order to learn body structures. During the epic period,
Acharyas educated princes on the selection of horses and elephants.
The study of the structure of animal, normal/abnormal was given due
importance and discussed in relevance to its application.
In the history of veterinary science, Shalihotra (2350
BC) is considered as first known veterinarian of the world who wrote
‘Shalihotra Samhita’ having 12000 shlokas in Sanskrit. He described
equine and elephant anatomy, physiology, surgery and diseases with
their curative and preventive measures. He elaborated on the
structures of body of different races of horses. He was well versed
with the structural details by which one can determine the age of
horse. In the year 1800 BC ‘Muni Palkapya’ wrote ‘Hasti Ayurveda’
covering all aspects of elephant medicine. This book has four sections
and 152 chapters including on structural details of elephants. During
Mahabharat period (1000-900 BC), Nakul was considered as equine expert
while Sahdev was specialist in cattle management. They were very much
familiar with various anatomical details of the cows and horses, and
to treat them specially after injury during the wars. In Agnipurana,
descriptions of sensory organs have been made as sarota (ear), twac
(skin), chakshus (eyes), jivha (tongue) and ‘ghrana’ (nose).
Acharya Sushrut (600 BC) one of the best Surgeon had
written a book known as ‘Sushrut Samhita’. There were 5 sections in
this book including anatomy, diagnosis, treatment etc. He had
described various instruments to open and examine the body. He
conducted several surgical operations of cataract, and ceresious. Many
such instruments of surgery are in use even today. He divided the
human body as head, trunk, fore and hind limbs.
Jeevak (500 BC) operated cranium of the then finance
minister (Nagar Seth) of Samrat Bimbisar and successfully removed the
pus and clot of blood. One can easily imagine the depth of anatomical
knowledge he had. Possibly it will be the first brain surgery in the
history. He also operated intestines to remove tumor of another Nagar
Seth of Varanasi. He removed the damaged portion of intestines and
again sutured them successfully. He also treated Budha.
Alcameon (500 BC), a Greek physician carried out
dissections on animals and for the first time save the optic nerve and
auditory tube. Hippocrates (460-370 BC), a great Greek physician of
all times propounded that all living bodies are made up of four humour,
the sangnis (blood), cholera (yellow bile), melancholia (black bile)
and pituita (phlegm) and that health depends on mixing of these
humours in proper proportion. Aristotle (384-322 BC) a Greek
Philosopher and biologist established his own academy called Lyceum
and made extensive studies on marine life. He produced four major
treatise namely ‘On Psyche’, ‘Histories about animals’, ‘On the
generation of animals’ and ‘On the parts of animals’. He studied
anatomical structures of 50 species of domestic animals. His major
contributions are absence of gall bladder in horse and descriptions of
different parts of digestive tract including four compartments of
ruminant stomach. He had written four books on parts of animals. He
conducted several post-mortem examination of animals and is considered
founder of ‘Comparative Anatomy’. Herophilus of Alexandria of Egypt
(290 BC) has been considered as “Father of Medical Anatomy”. He
established the difference among artery, vein and nerve and recognized
brain as an organ of thinking. He described nervous system, eyes,
liver and reproductive organs. He also gave the name retina and
duodenum. Erasistratus (220 BC) is credited as ‘Father of Medical
Physiology’. He differentiated between motor and sensory nerves and
formulated primitive ideas about functioning of blood vessels. He also
described the terms parenchyma for the substance of an organ.
Charak, a renowned medical practitioner had written a
treatise known as ‘Charak Samhita’ during 300-500 AD in Gupta Vansh
period. He is considered one of the highest honoured scientists of
Ayurveda. He developed various Ayurveda preparations to make man
Acharya Sharangdhar (1300 AD) was considered
specialist of pulse (Nari Shastra) which is not possible without the
knowledge of anatomy. He has also written two books namely
‘Sharangdhar Samhita’ and ‘Sharangdhar Padhati’.
Claudius Galen (130-210 AD) learned anatomy at
Alexandria Medical School and wrote a book on medical anatomy on the
basis of the structures of animals such as sheep, dog, bear, pig and
ox. Though his main purpose was to study human anatomy yet his
investigations became landmarks in Veterinary Anatomy. He could
recognize the resemblances between man and monkeys. He gave a good
description of muscles, bones and joints. Leonardo-da-Vinci
(1452-1519) conducted dissection on human body and described various
structures. He invented the techniques of paraffin embedding and
casting of body cavities. He prepared wax cast of heart and brain
ventricles. Albrech Direr formed several anatomical sketches of body
proportions while Pierre Belon described the anatomy of fish and
marine mammals. Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) wrote a book De Humani
Corporis Fabrica in 1543 which contained illustrations and
comprehensive description of human body. He described skull as the
first some and compared human skull with that of dog.
An Italian anatomist and surgeon Hieronymus Fabricius
described valves in veins and development of embryo during 1533-1619.
He had published “De Venarum Ostiolis” and “De Formatu Foetus”. He was
the teacher of William Harvey who had a great vision of comparative
anatomy, physiology and embryology. He published his monumental work
on circulation of blood in 1628. He was great proponent of ovist
theory of preformation and gave the concept of continuity of life
“Omnevivum exovo” in 1651. In 1598, Carlo Ruini published a book on
anatomy of horse. It was first comprehensive book on anatomy of horse
in modern era. This book made the beginning of modern veterinary
science. During 16th century several scientists including
G. Aselli, J. Vesling, J. Pecquet, T. Bartholin and O. Rudback were
involved in the discovery of lymphatic system. An in depth study of
anatomical facts began with the efforts of Dutch spectacles markers
Janssen and Janssen who are credited with building first successful
microscope in 1590.
Joham Jacob Wepfer (1622-1674) first correctly
described the course and branching of the carotid artery by injecting
the vessels of brain with saffron water.
During 1628-1694, Marcello Malpighi investigated
microscopic structures of body using simple microscope. His most
significant contributions were on anatomy and physiology of lungs. He
forwarded the ‘Doctrine of Preformation’. The capillary nexus between
arteries and veins, circulation of blood and air flow in lung was
described by Malpighi. Various other scientists in 17th
century made remarkable contributions including R. Graff described the
Graffian follicle, T. willis described the anatomy of brain, N. Grew
investigated the anatomy of stomach and gut; Andrew Snape Jr.
described anatomy of horse and G. Blaes reported the anatomy of dog.
Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) for the first time examined human spermatozoa
under microscope and coined the term ‘animal cule’. He demonstrated
the presence o capillaries and described red blood corpuscular
morphology of fist, frog and man. He gave an excellent account of
muscles, lens, teeth, skin and many other organs. Robert Hooke
(1635-1703) dedicated himself to microscopic studies and published a
book ‘Micrographia’ in 1665. While studying the microscopic structure
of cork, he for the first time used the term ‘cell’ in the ambit of
biology. Jan Swammerdam (1637-1680) worked on anatomy of snail, clam
and squid, development of frog and contraction of muscles. He
successfully injected the vessels with wax using finally drown not
glass tubes and mounted in turpentine to achieve better visibility. He
also described red blood corpuscles of frog in 1658. Robert Boyle’s
experiment to place pants or even whole animal in spirit opened up ten
era of animal preservation without a change in colour.
John Hunter (1728-1793) is considered innovative
anatomist, described various methods of comparative anatomy. He was
skilled carpenter and his innovative anatomical preparations are still
preserved in the Huntarian museum of London. Bonnet (1745) described
the phenomenon of partherugenesis. Kasper F. Wolff (1733-1794)
disproved the concept of preformation of Malpighi and advocated a new
theory of ‘epigenesis’. In 1762, Claude Bourgelat established a
veterinary school at Lyons in France for the study of anatomy and
diseases of domestic animals mainly involving horse.
In 1766 George Stubbs wrote a book on anatomy with
very good illustrations of skeleton and other superficial structures
like muscles. G.B. Morgagni (1682-1771) established a new structural
relationship of diseases, its signs and symptoms with affected organs.
Cuvier (1969-1832) stressed on the principle of correlation of parts
of animal body. He studied the fossils of elephants, other mammals and
reptiles. D. Blaine in 1799 published a book on anatomy of horse and
propagated the importance of veterinary anatomy in clinical practice
in England. He was a medical physician and later became veterinarian.
He also published another book on outlines of veterinary art which was
widely read and published into many editions. Bichat (1771-1801)
championed in pathological anatomy. The studied several hundred bodies
and classified the tissues into 21 types in 1800. He is credited as
‘Father of Histology’.
William Percivall in 1832 published first systematic
text on the anatomy of horse in English. He also started the
publication the journal “Veterinarian”. Own (1804-1894) dissected a
large number of animals including marsupalia and monotremata. He
introduced the concept of ‘Analogy’ and ‘Homology’ in anatomy. Pander
(1817) studied the formation of 3 germ layers in chick embryos and
supported the theory of epigenesis. The study was extended by Karle
Ernst Von Baer (1828) to all vertebrates. He presented the knowledge
of embryology in coherent form and gave certain generalizations
designated as ‘Baer’s Law’. He is known as ‘Father of Modern
Embryology’. Provosts and Dumas (1824) first described the process of
cleavage in frog’s egg. In 1859 Charles Darwin published ‘The origin
of species” which was considered most significant work in the field of
In 1838, T. Schwann along with M.J. Scheiden gave the
cell theory, Schwann published a book “Microscopic investigations on
the accordance in the structure and growth of plants and animals” in
1839. He discovered the stripped muscles of upper eosophagus and
Schwann cells of peripheral nervous system. He also recognized the
cellular nature of egg while Schweigger-Seidel and St. George
recognized the cellular nature of spermatozoa. Ernst Hackel published
a book “Generelle Morphologie” in 1866. He is best known for his
‘Theory of Recapitulation’. Wilhem Roux (1850-1924) a student of
Haeckel devoted himself to the cause of experimental embryology. He is
credited as ‘Father of Experimental Embryology”.
In the year 1882 the Anatomical society was formed in
Germany which included the natural scientists and physicians. The
Anatomical Society of Great Britain was established in 1887 followed
by American Association of Anatomists in 1888 and L’ Association des
Anatomistes in 1889. The first issue of ‘Der Anatomischer Anzeiger’
was published in 1886 and the first International Conference of
Anatomists was held in Geneva in 1905. Felix Vicq-d' Azyr investigated
limbs and teeth anatomy of mammals. In 1855-57 an eminent French Jean-Baptise
wrote a book on comparative anatomy of domestic animals which was
subsequently translated in English by G. Fleming in 1873. In 19th
century, another excellent book “Handbook of Comparative Anatomy of
Domestic Animals” was written by several anatomist including William
Ellenberger (1848-1929) and Hernan Baum (1864-1932). The 18th
edition of this book was published in 1943.
William Stewart Halsted (1852-1922), an eminent
surgeon opined that the major discoveries related to clinical subjects
were possible because investigators had accurate knowledge of anatomy.
While J.E. Purkinje described the cells of nervous system and
conduction system of heart, J.T. Share-Jones, first Professor of
Veterinary Anatomy in University of Liver poor published a series of
volumes on the surgical anatomy of the horse during 1906-1924.
Septimus Sission (1865-1924) of Ohio State University, USA used 25%
formalin as embalming fluid in 1901 and published “Text book of
Veterinary Anatomy in 1910. This book was furthered by James D.
Grossman (1884-1961) who also modified the embalming fluid to contain
10% formalin in 1914. This book was further edited by Robert Getty as
“Sisson and Grossman’s The Anatomy of Domestic Animals” with Indian
contribution by N. Ghosal and B.S. Nanda. In 1954 Richard Nickel,
August Schumer and Eugen Siefrele published a book in German on
anatomy of domestic animals in five volumes.
“A guide to the dissection of the dog” was published
in 1947 by Malcolm Miller. Thereafter, he had also written another
book on ‘Anatomy of dog’ in 1964. Later James D. Grossman prepared
“Students’ Guide to Anatomy of the Camel” in 1960 which was published
by ICAR. The monumental work of HN Chelva Iyenger and KR Alur was
published as “Anatomy of Ox” by ICAR in 1964. D. Mariappa conducted
comprehensive work on elephant anatomy and prepared a text. Two South
African Scientists, M.M.S. Smuts and A.J. Bezuidenhout published
‘Anatomy of Dromedary’ in 1987. The first meeting of Indian Veterinary
Anatomists was held in 1983 at Madras Veterinary College under the
organizing skills of V.K. Seshadri and P.S. Lalitha. It lead to the
formation of “Indian Association of Veterinary Anatomists”, which also
started the publication of its journal “Indian Journal of Veterinary
Anatomy” in 1989. Besides, many Indian authors had published several
text including ‘Primary Veterinary Anatomy’ by R. Ghosh and Colour
Atlas of Buffals Anatomy by Harcharan Singh and K.S Roy. Drs. V.
Ramkrishna and K.M. Gadre of Biden Veterinary College published a book
“A Systematic Histology of Domestic Animals” in 1998.
As for as Indian scenario is concerned, there is a
great need to carryout research work on our indigenous animals. Most
of the research on anatomy is directed towards the studies on exotic /
crossbreed animals. The anatomical details of Indian Zebu cattle are
to be investigated particularly in relation to hump and dewlap which
clearly differentiate them from exotic breeds. The Indian cattle is
quite refractory to various disease conditions in comparison to
exotic/crossbreds/buffaloes which is evident under field conditions or
available epidemiological data. However, this aspect needs a detailed
investigation as to how these animals show so much resistance to
various infections. Various products of indigenous cows are considered
better than those of exotic/crossbred/buffaloes such as milk, urine,
dung particularly in reference to increased awareness towards their
therapeutic use. It needs a detailed investigation as it appears to be
related with anatomical differences present in Indian Zebu cows.
Ontogeny of specific and paraspecific immune system of buffaloes and
goats with reference to Indian conditions should be studied. The
studies on elemental concentration of skin cells and/or hairs of
domestic animals particularly for differentiation of species of cattle
and buffaloes or other animals will be of much interest for forensic
people. The researches should also be directed towards the applied
aspect of anatomy in addition to traditional knowledge of anatomy. In
21st century, most of the services are looking
privatization and veterinary profession is no exception. The graduates
should be prepared in such a way that they will compete in the
privatization era of the world.
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