Steer yourself in the right direction. Anon


Medial: structures closer to the midline or median plane of the body in relation to another structure of the body.


Lateral: structures  farther away from the midline in relation to another structure of the body.

A body can be divided into the torso (Axial, shown in blue) and extremeties (Appendicular, shown in yellow).


  • Towards the front or belly

  • You Vent out or your nose and mouth.

Biped (2 legs):

  • Ventral = Anterior

  • Dorsal = Posterior

  • Cranial = Superior

  • Caudal = Inferior


Quadruped (4 legs):

  • Ventral = Inferior

  • Dorsal = Superior

  • Cranial = Anterior

  • Caudal = Posterior

Body Planes:


  • Medial/Sagittal – divides the body into right and left parts


  • Frontal or Coronal – divides the body into anterior (font) and posterior (back) parts


  • Transverse or Horizontal (cross section) – divides the body into superior (upper) and  inferior (lower) parts


  • Oblique Section – cuts made diagonally

What we need to know:

Let's start with the basics.

We need to start with the basics - where things are.  We need to be able to use descriptive words that tell us where we are looking, so we can communicate with each other.  We need to be sure we are using the same vocabulary, so vocabulary is where we'll start.  THis may be a bit confusing at first, but we will use this vocabulary throughout the year, and you will become fluent.

Let's not act immaturely, I know that the man and woman are naked, and you can see his penis and her vagina. 

We'll be seeing a lot more than this during the course, so you should just get over that now.


We need to understand what this vocabulary is so we can understand each other.  These words are mostly descriptive,


and can be a little confusing at first, but you wil become fluent (or you won't pass the class). 

You don't have a choice, so just memorize the vocabulary words you need, and use them in class.

Body Position:

When we think about direction, we need to start with the body in a known position.  We'll start with our body erect, feet slightly apart, palms facing forward, and our thumbs pointing away from our body.  This is our "at rest" position. This is the position our illustration shows to the right. 

Positions & Directions:

The terms position and direction describe the position of one body part relative to another, usually along one of the three major body planes.

Superior (Cranial): structures  closer to the head or higher in relation to another structure in the body


Inferior (Caudal): structures closer to the feet or lower in relation to another structure in the body


Anterior (Ventral)

•Refers to a structure being more in front than another structure in the body


Posterior (Dorsal)

•Refers to a structure being more in back than another structure in the body

Upper Left: Sagital (Median) sections through Human body

Upper Right: Transverse (Horizontal) sections through Human Body

Lower Left : Frontal (Coronal) sections through Human Body

  • Lying face down

  • Lying on your stomach
    (Some of us sleep on our stomach)

  • Lying face up

  • Lying on your spine and you can have soup poured into your mouth

      (I can't imagine why you would want soup poured in

      your mouth, just go with the idea)

Most of the descriptors are paired, describing opposite positions on the body.

Distal and Proximal refer only to to the extremities (arms and legs).


Distal: structures further away from the root of the limb in relation to another structure in the limb


Proximal: structures closer to the root of the limb in reltion to another structure in that limb

Superficial (External): structures closer to the surface of the body in relation to another structure




Deep (Internal): structures closer to the core of the body in relation to another structure


  • Towards the back

  • Like the Dorsal fin of a dolphin.

  • Unilateral

Pertaining to one side of the body

  • Bilateral

Pertaining to both sides of the body

We will be dissecting animals with

four legs (quadrapeds).  The terms apply the same

for these - here are some diagrams to help you see the similarities.