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See if you can answer the following quiz:
Imagine that we could magically make every part of the body invisible except for the specific, single anatomical system of our choice.
Which physiological system, standing in space and moving as in life, would show us the complete, recognizable shape of the body. Check all that apply.
A. The skeleton
B. The nervous system
C. The muscular system
D. The circulatory system
E. The fascial system
F. The respiratory system
Answer before scrolling down!
A.The skeleton: The skeleton is made of bones that are encased in muscles, fat and connective tissue of many kinds and by itself does not resemble the shape of the living body. To the contrary, it is more like the shape of a body long dead.
C. The muscular system: This is a gotcha! While most pictures you see of the muscular system do indeed have much of the shape of a body, the pictures do not portray the muscular system exclusively but almost always include tendons, ligaments and other connective tissue that are part of the fascial system, otherwise called “myofascial.” Thus they portray two systems, not one.
F. The respiratory system as a stand-alone system does not give us the shape of a body.
B. In 1548 Vesalius created this picture showing the nervous system as having the shape of the human body. A strictly accurate version would not include the spine, but for the 16th century he did an amazing job of showing that the nervous system is integral to every part of the body! The famous Body World exhibits, shown in museums around the world displayed a modern anatomical version.
D. Vesalius also created this drawing of the circulatory system, which is the second whole-body system. The Body Worlds version is the amazing modern depiction.
E. The fascial system is the third whole-body system that defines the shape of the human body. Pictures of the fascia alone are few because study of the fascia is so new (since the 1990’s). The picture on the left shows a dissection of the fascia that does not include the skin but does include the fat and the collagen matrix around the fat. The donor is on the right side.
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