Leonardo da Vinci's Anatomical Drawings

Images: Royal Collection and Dr. Richard Wellings/UCHW

Five hundred years ago, Leonardo da Vinci wanted to know how the human body was composed, and set out to work on a treatise on human anatomy. He died without completing the work, but after making thousands of pages of notes and drawings.

So how did Leo do without x-rays and MRIs? Not bad at all, it turned out:

From a notebook dated 1489, there are a series of meticulous drawings of the skull.

Leonardo has cut off the front of the face to show what lies beneath. It is difficult to cut these bones without damaging them. And elsewhere in his papers, Leonardo left a drawing of the knives he used.

According to Peter Abrahams, professor of clinical anatomy at Warwick University in the UK, Leonardo's image is as accurate as anything that can be produced by scientific artists working today.

"If you actually know your anatomy, you can see all the tiny little holes that are in the skull," says Prof Abrahams.

"Those are absolutely anatomically correct. Leonardo was a meticulous observer, and a meticulous experimental scientist. He drew what he saw, and he had the ability to draw what he saw absolutely perfectly."

Robin Banerji of BBC World Service explains: Link

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