Dissection hasn’t always been easy, or even permitted: Roman law forbade autopsy, meaning that Galen gained most of his anatomical knowledge from dissecting the corpses of pigs and apes, assuming that the underlying structures were broadly similar.
Islam and Christianity had fewer proscriptions on the treatment of cadavers.
Vesalius began dissection in earnest in Padua in the 16th century.
It was his student, the Englishman William Harvey, who in 1628 made a breakthrough in discovering the function of the heart.
A tube-nosed fruit bat with an appearance reminiscent of the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda has been discovered in a remote rainforest.
The bat, along with an orange spider and a yellow-spotted frog are among a host of new species found in a region of Papua New Guinea.
More than 200 animals and plants were revealed for the first time after two months of surveying in the rugged and little-explored Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges last year.
Looks familiar: The creature bears more than a passing resemblance to the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda
The findings included two mammals, 24 species of frog, nine plants, nearly 100 new insects including damselflies, crickets and ants, and around 100 spiders.
They were uncovered by two scientific teams co-ordinated by Conservation International’s rapid assessment programme, in partnership with Papua New Guinea’s Institute for Biological Research and conservation organisation A Rocha International.
The teams explored different altitudes of the forest-cloaked Nakanai mountains, which host cave systems and some of the world’s largest underground rivers, and the Muller range, accessing the remote areas by plane, dinghy, on foot and even by helicopter.
I love dingoes! It’s an amazing privilege to experience close contact with such an intelligent animal.
I have been very lucky to have the honour of exploring our landscape in company with this magnificent misunderstood creature – who balances on the edge of extinction through the twin threats of hybridisation and persecution.
Like the Thylacine, (Tasmanian Tiger) they may disappear through our ignorance and neglect.
Reluctantly I accepted care of an emaciated female pup, her white colour covering a rare 3% of pure dingoes.
Previous experience with a pure black and tan pup (8% this colour) had taught me, the hard way, that dingoes are nothing like dogs – never expect “dog behaviour” from a dingo.
This time though I was living in a remote location and could see the potential for this pup to live the way nature intended, to live wild.
It wasn’t long before she had stolen my heart. Naturally timid and with an innate fear of humans, the pup bonded only with my son and myself. We had become her pack and all others were avoided.
Together we roamed the countryside, learning the environment around us. She taught me plenty.
I learnt quickly that to fall behind was to miss out. Under her guidance I learned which hollow logs held critters, which clumps of grass camouflaged lizards or goannas and what was going on in the treetops and sky above us.
She guided me to trees where berries were ripening, scattering the ground beneath. I decided if she could eat them, I probably could too, discovering culinary delights around my bush home I’d never known before.
Her sense of smell proved to be incredible. Once she led me four hundred meters up a hill to discover a mummified snake. Often I would try to sneak off only to have her track me down easily.
Occasionally she would leave me to chase after kangaroos or feral animals. I was never concerned leaving her to fend for herself.
She would always return home, even over many kilometres, even if we had driven a vehicle instead of walking. Her built-in GPS seemed faultless. Quickly she developed.
Her natural instincts kicked in and she spent less time with us and more out in the wild. Three days might pass between sightings but our meetings were always mutually joyful.
Many of the experiences I shared with her were richly beautiful but none so precious as sharing in her becoming a mother for the first time.
Unlike dogs, dingoes breed only once a year.
Her den was a twenty minute walk up a rocky range in a rough rock shelter. It was our secret. If strangers had approached she would have moved the den immediately to keep her pups safe.
Four cubs were born, all of them tan, the most common colour (88%), like their wild father.
The biological process that protects black bears’ bones during hibernation could help people with bone-related chronic illness and to protect astronauts on long space flights. Photograph: Andrew Krech/AP
by Philip Oldfield
Astronauts could protect themselves against bone wastage by harnessing a unique biological process that allows black bears to maintain their skeletons during hibernation.
A study has revealed that bears protect their bones from degrading, despite hardly moving for up to six months, by suppressing the usual constant release of calcium from the bones into the blood.
Such a lengthy period of inactivity in humans would lead to a severely weakened bone structure.
“This could be the basis for a new therapy for astronauts, or people with a bone-related chronic illness,” said Meghan McGee-Lawrence, assistant professor in cellular biology and anatomy at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, and an author of the study.
Astronauts will spend a year in space testing effects on body and mind.
Reduced movement in humans, and other mammals, can cause significant health problems. This is due to the body responding to inactivity by decreasing bone formation and increasing calcium release, leading to bone loss and increased risk of breaks and fractures.
One of the major side-effects of prolonged weightlessness is spaceflight osteopenia, a condition where reduced stress on the bones triggers bone loss. Astronauts on the Mir space station, for example, lost on average 1-2% of their bone mass each month.
The condition can be a limiting factor for the length of missions that astronauts can endure.
The Giffard Dirigible, flying from Paris to Trappes, 1852.
In France, an engineer named Henri Giffard (1825-82) was leading the way in les ballons dirigeable, French for directable balloons, and from which English adapted the word dirigible.
In 1852, Giffard’s airship made the first recorded successful powered and steerable flight.
The intrepid inventor flew his machine from the Paris Hippodrome to Trappes, a distance of 17 miles (27 km), in roughly 3 hours. The craft proved manoeuvrable, making many navigational turns and performing circles, but the engine wasn’t powerful enough to fly against the wind and failed to make a return journey.
The balloon was 144 feet long (44 m), hydrogen filled, and highly flammable, so the engine exhaust was diverted downwards by a long pipe.
The engine produced 3 hp, drove a propeller, and top speed of the dirigible was 6 mph (9 km).
By the 1600s, the plague doctor was a terror to behold, thanks to his costume — perhaps the most potent symbol of the Black Death. The protective garment was created by the 17th-century physician Charles de l’Orme (1584-1678).
De l’Orme had been the physician of choice for several French kings (one Henri and a Louis or two), and was also a favourite of the Medici family in Italy. In 1619 — as a carefully considered way to protect himself from having to visit powerful, plague-infested patients he couldn’t say no to — de l’Orme created the iconic uniform.
Its dramatic flair certainly made it seem like a good idea, and the costume quickly became all the rage among plague doctors throughout Europe.
Made of a canvas outer garment coated in wax, as well as waxed leather pants, gloves, boots and hat, the costume became downright scary from the neck up.
A dark leather hood and mask were held onto the face with leather bands and gathered tightly at the neck so as to not let in any noxious, plague-causing miasmas that might poison the wearer.
Eyeholes were cut into the leather and fitted with glass domes.
As if this head-to-toe shroud of foreboding wasn’t enough, from the front protruded a grotesque curved beak designed to hold the fragrant compounds believed to keep “plague air” at bay.
Favourite scents included camphor, floral concoctions, mint, cloves, myrrh and basically anything that smelled nice and strong.
In some French versions of the costume, compounds were actually set to smolder within the beak, in the hopes that the smoke would add an extra layer of protection.
A wooden stick completed the look, which the plague doctor used to lift the clothing and bed sheets of infected patients to get a better look without actually making skin-to-skin contact.