Anatomical terminology

The anatomical position, with terms of relative location noted.
The human body is shown in anatomical position in an anterior view and a posterior view. The regions of the body are labeled in boldface.
Abdominal regions are used for example to localize pain.
The three anatomical planes of the body: the sagittal, transverse (or horizontal), frontal planes
The biceps brachii flex the lower arm. The brachioradialis, in the forearm, and brachialis, located deep to the biceps in the upper arm, are both synergists that aid in this motion.
The skeletal muscles of the body typically come in seven different general shapes. This figure shows the human body with the major muscle groups labeled.
Serous membrane
Older set of terminology shown in Parts of the Human Body: Posterior and Anterior View from the 1933 edition of Sir Henry Morris' Human Anatomy. See also List of human anatomical regions § Deprecated or older regions.
Labels of human body features displayed on images of actual human bodies, from which body hair and male facial hair has been removed.

Form of scientific terminology used by anatomists, zoologists, and health professionals such as doctors.

- Anatomical terminology

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Anatomical terms of location

Standard anatomical terms of location are used to unambiguously describe the anatomy of animals, including humans.

Because of differences in the way humans and other animals are structured, different terms are used according to the neuraxis and whether an animal is a vertebrate or invertebrate.
A male and female human in the standard anatomical position
Anatomical terms can be combined to be more specific. This is a dorsolateral view of the frog Mantophryne insignis.
Anatomical planes in a human
Organisms where the ends of the long axis are distinct. (Paramecium caudatum, above, and Stentor roeselii, below.)
Terms can be modified with prefixes and suffixes. In this image showing the jellyfish species Chrysaora, the prefix 'ab-', is used to indicate something that is 'away from' the mouth, for example the aboral. Other terms are combined to indicate axes, such as proximodistal axis.
Anatomical directional reference
In the human skull, the terms rostral and caudal are adapted to the curved neuraxis of Hominidae, rostrocaudal meaning the region on C shape connecting rostral and caudal regions.
Anatomical terms used to describe a human hand
Asymmetrical and spherical body shapes. (a) An organism with an asymmetrical, amoeboid, body plan (Amoeba proteus – an amoeba). (b) An organism with a spherical body plan (Actinophrys sol – a heliozoan).
Four individuals of Phaeodactylum tricornutum, a diatom with a fixed elongated shape.
A cluster of Euplectella aspergillum sponges (Venus flower baskets), showing the apical-basal axes.
Anatomical axes in a human, similar for other orthograde bipedal vertebrates
Anatomical terms of location in a fish.
Spheroid or near-spheroid organs such as testes may be measured by "long" and "short" axis.<ref>{{cite book|title=Introduction to Vascular Ultrasonography|first1=John |last1=Pellerito |first2=Joseph F. |last2=Polak|edition=6th|publisher=Elsevier Health Sciences|year=2012|isbn=978-1-4557-3766-6 |page=559}}</ref>
Anatomical terms of location in a dog
Anatomical terms of location in a kangaroo
Anatomical terms of location in a horse.
Aurelia aurita, another species of jellyfish, showing multiple radial and medio-peripheral axes
The sea star Porania pulvillus, aboral and oral surfaces
Aspects of spider anatomy; This aspect shows the mainly prolateral surface of the anterior femora, plus the typical horizontal eye pattern of the Sparassidae
Typical arrangement of eyes in the Lycosidae, with PME being the largest
In the Salticidae the AME are the largest

The location of anatomical structures can also be described in relation to different anatomical landmarks.

Anatomical terms of muscle

The antagonistic pair of biceps and triceps working to flex the elbow.
The biceps flexes the lower arm. The brachioradialis, in the forearm, and brachialis, located deep to the biceps in the upper arm, are both synergists that aid in this motion.
The seven general types of skeletal muscle
Rectus femoris (in red). Origin includes the anterior inferior iliac spine and part of the acetabulum. Insertion is into the patellar tendon. Action is extension of the knee and flexion of the hip.
Different skeletal muscle types: A: fusiform. B: unipennate. C: bipennate. (PCS: physiological cross-section)
Example of an atrophied muscle

Anatomical terminology is used to uniquely describe aspects of skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and smooth muscle such as their actions, structure, size, and location.

International Federation of Associations of Anatomists

Umbrella scientific organization of national and multinational Anatomy Associations, dedicated to anatomy and biomorphological sciences.


Since 1989 the Federative International Committee on Anatomical Terminology (FICAT) under IFAA auspices, has met to analyze and study the international morphological terminology (Anatomy, Histology and Embryology), releasing updated Terminologia Anatomica in 1998 and Terminologia Histologica in 2008.

Federative International Programme on Anatomical Terminology

Group of experts who review, analyze, and discuss the terms of the morphological structures of the human body.

Morphology of a male shrimp, Caprella mutica

They hold periodic meetings in different countries on a rotating basis, where they study morphological terminology: anatomical, histological and embryology of the human being.

Pan American Association of Anatomy

Public, nonprofit, scientific organization that brings together professionals engaged in the study of Anatomy and related sciences in the American continent.


In 2009, during the 43rd anniversary of the Pan American Association of Anatomy, the 1st Iberian-Latin-American Terminology Symposium (SILAT) was held, with the purpose of disseminating the International Morphological Terminology.

Transverse myelitis

Rare neurological condition in which the spinal cord is inflamed.

An MRI showing a transverse myelitis lesion, which is lighter, oval shape at center-right. The patient recovered 3 months later.
Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes cause Lyme disease and are one of many infections associated with transverse myelitis.
Axial T2 MRI of cervical spine demonstrating normal cord signal (green circle) and increased T2 signal in the central cord (red circle).
Henry Charlton Bastian

Motor weakness occurs due to involvement of the pyramidal tracts and mainly affects the muscles that flex the legs and extend the arms.

Cranial nerves

Cranial nerves are the nerves that emerge directly from the brain (including the brainstem), of which there are conventionally considered twelve pairs.

Left View of the human brain from below, showing origins of cranial nerves. Right Juxtaposed skull base with foramina in which many nerves exit the skull.
The oculomotor (III), troclear (IV) and abducens (VI) nerves supply the muscle of the eye. Damage will affect the movement of the eye in various ways, shown here.
The facial nerve (VII) supplies the muscles of facial expression. Damage to the nerve causes a lack of muscle tone on the affected side, as can be seen on the right side of the face here.
A damaged glossopharyngeal nerve (IX) may cause the uvula to deviate to the affected side.
The cranial nerves in the horse.
Ventral view of a sheep's brain. The exits of the various cranial nerves are marked with red.

Cranial nerves are numbered based on their position from front to back (rostral-caudal) of their position on the brain, as, when viewing the forebrain and brainstem from below, they are often visible in their numeric order.

Human leg

Entire lower limb of the human body, including the foot, thigh and even the hip or gluteal region.

Lateral aspect of right leg
Comparison between human and gorilla skeletons. (Gorilla in non-natural stretched posture.)
Bones of the leg
Muscles of the hip
Hip adductors
Anterior muscles
Veins of the leg
Mountaineers have heightened risk for serious leg injuries. This is generally due to the lack of medical help in mountainous areas, as well as movement impairment restricting access to other medical services.
Surface anatomy of human leg
Muscles of the gluteal and posterior femoral regions
Small saphenous vein and its tributaries
The popliteal, posterior tibial, and peroneal arteries
Nerves of the right lower extremity, posterior view
Leg bones

Most of the leg skeleton has bony prominences and margins that can be palpated and some serve as anatomical landmarks that define the extent of the leg.

Reticular formation

Set of interconnected nuclei that are located throughout the brainstem.

Coronal section of the pons, at its upper part. (Formatio reticularis labeled at left.)
A cross section of the lower part of the pons showing the pontine reticular formation labeled as #9
Ascending reticular activating system. Reticular formation labeled near center.
Spinal cord tracts - reticulospinal tract labeled in red, near-center at left in figure

Existing on the sides of the medial reticular formation is its lateral cousin, which is particularly pronounced in the rostral medulla and caudal pons.


Genus of birds in the order Casuariiformes, whose members are the cassowaries .

Close-up of the head of a southern cassowary
Feet of a southern cassowary: Cassowaries use their feet as weapons.
Juvenile southern cassowary
Southern cassowary eating banana
Cassowary feces, containing traces of seeds
A free-ranging cassowary wandering in a tourist park at Etty Bay, Queensland
A road sign in Cairns, Queensland, Australia
The cassowary is featured on the coat of arms of the Indonesian province of West Papua
Cassowary held as pet during the Siboga Expedition on Indonesia and New Guinea, 1899–1900

The second toe, the inner one in the medial position, sports a dagger-like claw that may be 125 mm long.