Anatomy and Physiology Lectures

In order to enhance your learning experience, we are re-organizing the site according to medical discipline.  Academicians should be organized, and we observe every opportunity to perfect our time management skills.  In the coming weeks, we will be reconstructing the site to allow easier mobility between skill levels and subject matter.  We have an immense amount of material to cover and insist on the utmost level of accuracy and ease of use of this resource.  We welcome suggestions and comments from our users as we strive to serve your scientific needs.

Learning Anatomy is Important for Everyone

Thomas Hobbes received credit for the Latin phrase, “scientia potential est” in his 1658 literary work entitled De Homine.  The phrase is translated as “knowledge is power.”  As in 1658, we need power today.  This article is multi-focal in nature.  It can be considered a review if you work in any of the allied health careers, or a new way to explore your body if you have never enrolled in an anatomy course.  Anatomy is not just for people in the medical field.  Anatomy is for everyone!  Your anatomy will be with you from the womb to the tomb.  You can choose to learn the basics now and become a knowledgeable participant in your own health, or you can learn it accidentally as you travel through life.

“Know thyself,” is an ancient Greek maxim, that was used by philosopher Plato.  The saying employed many meanings, but I am suggesting a literal usage.  Your body belongs to you.  You are in charge of it, and in order to be a good steward of the body you were granted, you need to possess a sufficient amount of knowledge.  We will approach the body in an exciting way that can be remembered easily.  Once you are informed about your body and how it works, you will become a healthier individual.  You will become an advocate for your healthcare and your clinicians will be pleased.  We love it when patients can properly describe a pain.  You will also find that you will receive a satisfying level of treatment if you are informed and take the lead in your own care.

Let’s have fun with it.  Get the 3X5 cards, highlighters, and any other learning tools that you choose.  Welcome to Human Anatomy 101.  Directions are important in anatomy.  Anatomical position means that the face and palms are forward, and feet are spread apart much like a military at ease stance.  For 2-legged creatures, anterior refers to the front and posterior refers to the back.  For 4-legged creatures, dorsal refers to the top and ventral refers to the belly.  (Fish have dorsal fins on the tops of their bodies.)  If we had an imaginary line through the body that was parallel to the floor, anything above the line would be superior.  This line is called a transverse plane.  Anything below a transverse plane is considered inferior.  For example, the heart is inferior to the brain.  The heart is superior to the kidney.  Lateral refers to the side.  If we had an imaginary line that split the body into right and left sides, that line would be called the midline.

I hope you have found this tutorial interesting and fun.  If not, stick with it anyway!  You will appreciate the knowledge later.  We will use mnemonics or catchy acronyms to remember various organ systems and functions.  If you know somebody who is entering  a healthcare profession and could benefit from an intense anatomy review, share the link.  Know your body; take care of your body.  By the end of this series, you will be able to detect erroneous information as it relates to your health.  Anybody with a mouse and an Internet connection can become a conduit of information.  We are bombarded with so much data from self-appointed leaders, it is difficult for the general public to decipher the truth at times.  Every week we hear new reports about the benefits or potential hazards of foods and supplements.  My team has adopted the task of educating the public as well as the next generation of clinicians.  We want you to know the difference between entertainment medicine and scholarly scientific work.  Knowledge is power.  We will start our next segment with a review of tissue and bones.


Lecture #1 – Body Basics

As promised, we are beginning our anatomy series.  You, too, can be knowledgeable about the complex masses that comprise your body.  Anatomy is not just for your doctor, nurse, or researcher.  Some of this information is being taught before the 6th grade.  So get ready!

Tissue – A mass of like cells

Histology – The science of tissues

Types of Tissue

1)      Epithelial Tissue –covers body – skin, lines tubes, such as the digestive tract and  glands

2)      Connective Tissue – most varied type of tissue – contains cells, fibers, and a matrix

Matrix – intercellular substance (Examples: bones, cartilage, and blood)

Plasma – the matrix of blood

3)      Muscular Tissue – designed to contract and relax

4)      Nervous Tissue – sensing, conducting, storing, and retrieving (Sounds like the brain, right?)

Skeletal System

Osteology – the science of bones

Bones have cells, fibers, and a matrix.  The matrix of bones contains Ca++ (Calcium) – which makes it different from other tissues.  The compound that forms the matrix is a hydroxyapatite.  (Pronounced Hi-DROCKS-see-APa-tite.)  (Ca++)10(PO4)6(OH)2  —This is a hydroxyl radical, a naturally occurring mineral form of calcium.  DO NOT GIVE UP!  If this is boring or does not make sense, stay with us.  anyway.  We will work on this like a puzzle.  All of the pieces will come together eventually.  PO4 (phosphate) is an inorganic chemical, a salt of phosphoric acid, and is found in teeth and bones.  The big picture is that bones are connective tissue.  Our brains are more complex than the fastest computer.  Everything that we have learned is stored in the brain.  We just need to remember where the information is stored and retrieve it when we need it.

Purpose of Bones

1)      Support – We would collapse if we had no solid structures within the body.

2)      Help us move, function

3)      Muscle attachment

4)      Protection – (Skull protects brain; Sternum and ribs protect heart and lungs)

5)      Calcium storage – There is a constant exchange of calcium between blood and bones

(Nerve conduction and muscle contraction also requires Ca++.)

Bones are composed of calcium (Ca++), phosphorus (P), and hydrogen (H).

Classification of Bones

Long Bones (Upper and Lower Extremities)

Short Bones

Irregular Bones

Flat Bones

Easy! Easy! Easy!  Read this a couple of times before we go on.  Keeping in mind that this is a basic introduction to the body, most bones will fall into either of those four categories.

Let’s name the bones.

Long Bones – Upper Extremities

Humerus – (arm)

Radius – (forearm) lateral – to the side – remember the anatomical position – palms must be forward.

Ulna – (forearm) – medial – I always thought of my pinkie finger as being closest to ‘us’, meaning the center of the body, or midline.  Ulna – Remember the ‘u’s.’  Use whatever clue you can to honestly get the grade.  In the end, we all need to know and build on this information.  Cheating has never solved any academic issue!  Using that same line of thinking, the radius is in the same plane as the thumb, and away from us.  It might seem fickle, but it works.  Enlist all of your senses as you learn.  Look at your thumb (visual learning) and think ‘radius’.  Look at your pinkie and think ‘ulna’ until it becomes s comfortable as reciting your name.

Metacarpals – (Palm)

Phalanges – (Fingers)

Long Bones – Lower Extremities

Femur – (Thigh) – It can be tapped for bone marrow – hemopoietic tissue.)  Hemopoietic simply means to make blood.  This tissue is also called HSC’s hemopoietic stem cells.  The body makes blood cells daily in order to maintain proper peripheral circulation.  I am sure you have heard about stem cell research on the nightly news.  These cells can be harvested from aborted fetuses, and used for other purposes.  Hence, the ethical debate of whether usage of aborted fetuses for research is proper.

Tibia – (Leg) – Medial – bears weight – closest to the midline.  Place your fingers on your knee and rub downward.  You can feel its angular shape through the skin.

Fibula – (Leg) – lateral – to the side.  I know a lady named Fabiola, who is tall and thin.  I always thought of her when I needed to differentiate between the two bones.  Eventually, it became second nature and I did not have to lean on the memory of our family friend as a crutch.

Metatarsals – (Sole)

Phalanges – (Toes)  “Phalanges are in the Pheet and Phingers.”  (Another silly Philly joke.  I promised you this would be easy and fun!)

 Short Bones

Wrist (Carpal Bones) Carpus

Ankle (Tarsal Bones) Tarsus

Irregular Bones

Vertebrae (Some movable; some immovable)

Sacrum – Fused to the immovable vertebrae and the coccyx (The ‘sacrum is sandwiched’ between the immovable vertebrae and the coccyx.)  Using the literary tool, alliteration, you can always remember where the sacrum is located.

When I was in school, before all of the highly technical learning aids, students went to the lab and pointed to the structures.  Oral exams told the whole story.  There was no way to pretend.  You just had to know the material.  (I was never without flashcards; on the train, in the line at the post office, while walking, etc.)  You solidify the information through touch, when you write out the material.  On many exams I could close my eyes and ‘see’ my handwriting on my flashcards.  My classmates called me The Encyclopedia.  They always thought I was smart.  Being modest, I always thought I worked harder than everyone else.


Ethmoid – inside skull

Sphenoid – inside skull; the skull is also called the calvarium

Upper jaw – Maxilla – Think maximum – on top.

Lower – Mandible – Think mandible – manholes are in the ground or down low.

Flat Bones

Scapula – shoulder blade, common name –  the “blade” is the spine of the scapula.

Clavicle – collarbone

Frontal Bone – in skull

Parietal Bone – in skull

I move very quickly for my professional students due to the volume of material we must cover.  As a hobby and a personal duty, I take my time when lecturing to a non-medical audience.  My hope is that you enjoy exploring the human body as much as I do.  Have fun and review these lists whenever you get a free moment.  It will be very rewarding to assist  your children or grandchildren with questions about their bodies.  Always strive to know more about the structures you carry with you everywhere.  I call that true self-love and ‘doing you’.


Lecture #2Common Anatomic Derivatives

All academic disciplines intersect at some point.  Knowledge can be transferable from one area to another.  In the following chart, you will find some common prefixes and suffixes which will be useful in understanding the body.  These derivatives will also strengthen your language abilities as it relates to other subjects. You will find these roots particularly helpful as you read newspaper articles, history books, or take exams to enter college or graduate school.  The average age of today’s college student is 25-years-old.  The current financial climate has led many adults to change careers.  Review this list as often as you like.  Repetition is the hallmark of the learning process.  Feel free to share this site with anyone who is entering a health-related profession or people who love to be informed and learn new subjects.  Curiosity is a common trait of scholars, so encourage your inquisitive child to learn as much as possible.

G = Greek                                L = Latin

Prefix/Suffix                            Origin/Meaning                                    Example

a-      (an-)                             G, without                                      anemia (without healthy red blood corpuscles; anencephalic (without a large part of the brain – birth defect)

Ab-                                                L, away from                           abduct – move arms away from body

Acro-                                 G, tip                                                   acromion process– part of the shoulder

Ad-                                    L, toward                                            adduct – (add- hint bring arms close to body)

Ambi-                                L, both                                                ambidextrous – using both hands

Ana-                                  G, apart                                                anatomy – cutting apart; to open

Ante-                                 L, before                                             anteversion; antebrachial (before the forearm); antecubital vein – popular site for intravenous lines)

Anti-                                  G, against                                           antiseptic (against putrefactive or decaying, bacterial growth) Remember: Septic tanks are yucky!

Arthr- (artho-)                G, a joint                                            arthritis (inflammation of joints)

Auto-                                 G, self                                                  autonomic, autonomous( functioning independently)

Bi-                                     L, two, double                                    bilateral (2 sides)

Brachi-                               G, arm                                                brachial artery

Brachium                           L, arm                                                antebrachium

Brevis                                L, short                                               peroneus brevis – (muscle in the foot)

Capit (caput)                      L, head                                             semispinalis capitis (muscle in superior, posterior aspect of the neck; posterior = back, superior = upper.  Hint from History – To decapitate is to cut off one’s head.  In medieval times that was a cruel, but usual punishment for criminals.  Figuring out words is so much fun.

Review anatomical directions.  I have prepared a list of approximately sixty prefixes and suffixes.  We are building a firm foundation for your newly found interest in your body.  There is no need to rush.  We will present approximately fifteen terms during each session.

Next, we will build on our knowledge of bones.  If necessary, read the last lecture a couple of times before moving on.

Identifying Characteristics of Bones

FOSSA – A depression in a bone – depression – low point.  This is scientifically sloppy, but I always think about ditches.  Example: TM Joint –temporomandibular joint – allows us to open and close the mouth.  Dentists are concerned about pain or clicking sounds as patients open and close their mouths.

SINUS – Cavity in the bone (a hole) – Example – Maxillary sinus – largest of the sinuses, pyramid-shaped.

FORAMEN – A large, obvious hole.  Example: Foramen Magnum – How the spinal cord gets up into the brain (located at the base of the skull).  The purpose of the foramen magnum is for continuity of spinal cord with brain.  The brain and spinal cord cannot be separated.  Many foramen exist in the body.

MEATUS – Tube.  Example: External auditory meatus – for sound waves

CONDYLES – Round processes of the bone; large, smooth, curved surfaces.

Review – Structure and Function of Bones


Support body

Protect organs

Production of blood cells

Provide place for muscle attachment

Store various minerals and salts

1.  Parts of a Bone (From the outside, going in)

Periosteum – Tough outer cover of bone; contains blood vessels

Compact bone – Dense bone, made of osteocytes or bone cells

2.  Parts of a Bone

Epiphysis – extended part on long bone at each end

Diaphysis – Part between the epiphysis

Articular Cartilage – cartilage at a joint

3.  Parts of a Bone

Spongy Bone – Lighter and less dense than compact bone; still strong

Marrow – red and yellow – yellow marrow is mostly fat and can be converted to red marrow.

Fractures – Breaks in bones; body is able to repair, but problems can occur if not properly assessed and treated by a physician.

Types of Fractures

Simple – bone does not break skin

Compound – broken end breaks skin

Complete – two parts

Partial – broken, but not into two distinct parts

Impacted – ends are wedged together

Comminuted – breaks into fragments

Spiral – the result of twisting bone; rough edges can be the result of sports injuries.

You are well on your way to a deeper understanding of your body.  We welcome your comments, questions, and feedback.  We are truly committed to scientific discovery.  If you find that our information differs from another source, please leave a comment on the site.  New information is released daily and we are willing to analyze and consider differing opinions.  We welcome scholarly debate, as we always want to be accurate and up to date.



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