An anatomy museum is a wonderful place. But who among us can travel to Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology or to London's Natural History Museum when we feel like studying anatomy?
If we can't go to the museum, can the museum come to us?
Guess what? It already has.
The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) of London has a wonderful anatomy museum, as well as an active, inspired support department specializing in media and online education. The RVC has been collaborating with other veterinary schools in Europe to create an online veterinary anatomy museum...and it went "live" this week.
But the curators did not set out to document the entire world of animal anatomy. Instead, they have chosen--or, in some cases, created--select materials that are superior for teaching anatomy and getting students involved with learning how animals move, breathe, digest or reproduce.
Until recently, students learned anatomy by studying flat, black-and-white line drawings and doing dissections. Video changed that, and interactive media are changing things yet again.
3D image loop showing the insertion of the deep digital flexor tendon courtesy of Dr Prisca Noble, Morpho Imaging, Liege, Belgium. (Note: only a small portion of the DDFT is shown; the tendon extends up the limb.) Would you remember the insertion of the DDFT better if you stared at a line drawing--or if you watched this video, which was designed for vet students.
Yet no university can provide all the resources that students would like--and the study of veterinary medicine means that multiple species need to be presented. So universities in Great Britain, and then in all of Europe, decided to pool their resources, for the benefit of students everywhere and with the goal of a greater collection as a sum of their contributions.
And so the Online Veterinary Anatomy Museum was born.
How do you cut the ribbon at the door to an online museum? Someone somewhere pushed the "go live" button, with fingers crossed that it would work...and cheered when it did.
The museum is beginning with an online library of approximately 150 still images of horse anatomy specimen, plus some stellar animated projects, including a fully rotatable 3-D distal limb of a horse (musculo-skeletal plus a removable hoof capsule) that is being created expressly for the museum by the Royal Vet College.
OVAM has only been with us a week. It's not perfect yet, especially for those who live their web lives on a mobile device. The 3-D foot is a work in progress and (so far) requires the download of a display tool to make it work.
|Resources on OVAM include contributions from commercial publishers. A portion of Professor Jean-Marie Denoix's landmark book, The Equine Distal Limb, will now be just a click away, thanks to the generosity of Manson Publishers.|
A few weeks ago, this blog reported on the new movement toward "Open Source" publishing and hailed laminitis research being freely available from one issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal in open source.
OVAM is cut from the same cloth. It will grow and flourish, it will amaze its visitors and, if it receives continued support and funding, it should quickly change the way that animal anatomy is studied and appreciated all over the world.
It's been online a week now, so maybe it already has!
Visit the Online Veterinary Anatomy Museum (OVAM). And if anyone ever tells you that anatomy is boring, you'll know they've never seen what's exhibited there.
--written by Fran Jurga
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All photos except the imaginary museum are © Online Veterinary Anatomy Museum and the universities that created them. While some may be available under Creative Commons license, the permission criteria is for educational, non-commercial use.
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