top of page

Links between Evolution, Development, Human Anatomy, Pathology, and Medicine, with A Proposition of A Re-defined Anatomical Position and Notes on Constraints and Morphological " Imperfections "

Jun 1, 2016

Surprisingly the oldest formal discipline in medicine (anatomy) has not yet felt the full impact of evolutionary developmental biology. In medical anatomy courses and textbooks, the human body is still too often described as though it is a " perfect machine. " In fact, the study of human anatomy predates evolutionary theory; therefore, many of its conventions continue to be outdated, making it difficult to study, understand, and treat the human body, and to compare it with that of other, nonbipedal animals, including other primates. Moreover, such an erroneous view of our anatomy as " perfect " can be used to fuel nonevolutionary ideologies such as intelligent design. In the section An Evolutionary and Developmental Approach to Human Anatomical Position of this paper, we propose the redefinition of the " human standard anatomical position " used in textbooks to be consistent with human evolutionary and developmental history. This redefined position also simplifies , for students and practitioners of the health professions, the study and learning of embry-onic muscle groups (each group including muscles derived from the same/ontogenetically closely related primordium/primordia) and joint movements and highlights the topological correspondence between the upper and lower limbs. Section Evolutionary and Developmental Constraints, " Imperfections " and Sports Pathologies continues the theme by describing examples of apparently " illogical " characteristics of the human body that only make sense when one understands the developmental and evolutionary constraints that have accumulated over millions of years. We focus, in particular, on musculoskeletal functional problems and sports pathologies to emphasize the links with pathology and medicine. These examples demonstrate how incorporating evolutionary theory into anatomy education can be helpful for medical students, teachers, researchers, and physicians, as well as for anatomists, functional morphologists, and evolutionary and developmental biologists. How to cite this article: Diogo R, Molnar J, 2016. Links between evolution, development, human anatomy, pathology, and medicine, with a proposition of a redefined anatomical position and notes on constraints and morphological " imperfections ". J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) XXXX:1–10.

bottom of page