Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Arab contributions to human biology

If you're a fan of history of the development of our understanding of human biology, then you may be interested in an essay I recently ran across in FASEB about the "golden age" of Arab science.

The 2006 article points out that developments in Islamic medicine in the span covering 750-1258 CE not only was remarkable in itself, but also laid the foundations for additional discoveries in Europe.

A few tidbits from the article:
  • Yuhanna ibn Massuwayh described allergy

  • Abu Bakr Muhummad ibn Zakariyya ar-Razi (Rhazes) distinguished smallpox from measles, described the laryngeal branch of the recurrent nerve, investigated psychosomatic reactions, and wrote the famous 30-volume medical encyclopedia Al-Hawi

  • Az-Zahrawi (Abulcasis) successfully carried out lithotomies and tracheotomies, described extrauterine ectopic pregnancy, cancer of the breast, and sex-linked inheritance of hemophilia

  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna) authored the al-Qanun fil Tibb (The Canon of Medicine) the authority in medicine for 5 centuries

  • Ibn-Nafis described pulmonary circulation
To read the essay . . .
Arab science in the golden age (750-1258 CE) and today
Falagas, et al.
The FASEB Journal 2006;20:1581-1586
[FREE full-text essay cited in this blog article]
You may also be interested in . . .
Islamic Culture and the Medical Arts.
National Library of Medicine accessed June 30 2009
[Article (and links) about an exhibit covering this topic at the NLM, includes access to many illustrations.]
Click the image for "The eye according to Hunain ibn Ishaq" circa 1200 CE, a FREE image to use in your course. If you can't see the image in a newsfeed, then go to The A&P Professor blog to see it.

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