Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Vesalius, Andreas

Belgian dissectionist, surgeon at Padua, and considered the founder of modern anatomy. He was the personal physician to Charles V and author of De humani corporis fabrica, libri septem (seven volumes, Basel, 1538). Through direct observation by dissection of human cadavers, Vesalius discovered errors in Galen’s anatomy, which he showed to be that of an ape rather than of man. In book seven, on the brain, Vesalius noted that there existed globular, flattened and oblong skulls, and he was therefore the earliest craniometrician. He attributed the variation to artificial deformation.