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We Are Animals

You can’t begin to understand human anatomy unless you also acknowledge that human beings (that’s us primates!) are quadrupeds.

We are animals.

You can’t take the study of anatomy out of the zoological context.

And, therefore, evolution.

We recently asked Anatomy in Clay® Learning System founder Jon Zahourek to chat about this issue as he was preparing to teach four classes at the CorePower® Yoga Leadership Summit in Estes Park.

The beautiful mountain setting doesn’t matter except to say you never know where you’ll find Jon and the variety of students he works with!

In every case, when Jon introduces new students to the Anatomy in Clay® approach, this is a fundamental point he stresses.

His key message: study the pattern.

If you take humans out of their mammalian context, you are left to study human anatomy as a singularity. It’s better to study the context and the patterns we share with others.

As babies, Jon points out, we are quadrupeds. And then, of course, babies are encouraged to emulate their parents—and walk! Ta-da.

Of course some babies make the shift to bipedalism of their own accord; no encouragement needed. But the anatomical patterns are clear—we share so much with primates and vertebrates of all kinds. Ever watched a gorilla go from four legs to two? And back?

Care to learn more? Come to one of Jon’s comparative anatomy classes at the non-profit Anatomy in Clay® Centers in Denver. You won’t ever look at your dog (or horse) the same way again. Details on the 2019 schedule here.

Religion, alas, doesn’t help counter this notion that humans were always bipedal. In general, religions suggest we arrived as fully upright creatures on the planet. The whole Adam & Eve imagery doesn’t exactly fit with what scientists know from a factual standing—that the human tribe has had a broad career from its probable beginnings millions of years ago through the development of tools and more structured cultures tens of thousands of years ago (Britannica).

Sure, you can study human anatomy without thinking about what came before. Sure, you can memorize all 650 or 700 individual muscles (or up to 840 individual muscles, some say, depending on much you parse the muscle complexes).

You can also memorize all the digits in Pi out to a couple hundred places, but what does it mean?

Grasping the conceptual patterns and shared patterns in human anatomy establishes context for the human form and its various functions. And understanding context means improved learning and, well, improved understanding in general.

Anatomy connects us—all the way back through both vertebrate and invertebrate forms. To be a student of anatomy also means being a student of evolution and, looking at an even longer time horizon, of the five mass extinctions that long preceded the evolution of mankind.

Anatomy is a prism to the history of living creatures. And to the history of the planet as well.


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