Wondrium Shows Anatomy of Motion with New Tech

anatomage is a "digital autopsy table" that shows anatomy with less gore

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

The muscular and skeletal systems govern how our bodies move. Bones, joints, and 600 muscles keep the human body in motion day and night—even while we sleep. Wondrium and a digital autopsy table show how.

Skeleton on dark background
Due to a wide variation in human anatomy, it’s estimated that only 70% of individuals have the by-the-book pattern or structure. Photo by Videologia / Shutterstock

Wondrium’s new series How We Move: The Gross Anatomy of Motion may not sound like it’s for the faint of heart—or stomach. The series explains how our bodies stay in motion across 24 episodes, and in three of those episodes, forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray performs virtual cadaver studies with a new technology called “Anatomage,” often described as a “digital autopsy table.”

However, those episodes come clearly labeled and with disclaimers. Additionally, squeamish viewers can skip those episodes without fear of missing key parts of the series. Meanwhile, Brandon Hopkins, Wondrium content developer and self-confessed “squeamish type,” said that while he initially thought he would struggle with the Anatomage episodes, he didn’t at all.

Body of Work

“I do not have a science background and I’ve never taken an anatomy course before, so having to jump into this, I thought ‘Is this going to be fun or is it going to be a lot of memorization and that kind of thing?’ and the answer turns out to be that it’s actually a lot of fun,” Hopkins said. “It’s very interesting, even if that’s not your background or you’re coming into it as a total beginner. It’s kind of high enough level that you don’t really get into internal organs at all.”

Hopkins emphasized that How We Move is all about motion. Some of the topics he cited as specifically interesting to him included why bones are the shape they are, including their tubercles—the small and rounded protrusions on bones—and how muscles attach to them. He said the series is both user-friendly and very visual.

“We use this thing called the Anatomage table, which looks like a giant cell phone, but it’s a full-scale human body—an actual human cadaver—that has been dissected meticulously so you can see the layers and features in actual photographs and scans,” he said. “You really see the body in a way that illustrates all the parts and develops your understanding of them. I found it really fascinating even though it’s not my normal ‘beat,’ as it were.”

Talking the Medical Talk

Hopkins praised Dr. Murray’s professionalism and unique perspective on the human body in life and death. He described her as having a sense of humor while conveying knowledge with a sense of charm, sophistication, seriousness, and approachability. This carried over with what he took away from the series.

“There’s a thing called anatomical position, which is basically the human body [lying on its back] with the palms up so your ulna and radius aren’t crossed, because they swivel over each other,” he said. “So there’s a way that anatomists describe the body in relation to the midline and going out [from it], and things in relation to other things whether they’re distal or proximal—distal being further out—and so there’s this whole logic of thinking about the body that I found very interesting.”

This sort of logical thinking about the body extends to how body parts are named. If something is referred to as distal, it’s going to be similar to another body part but specifically further out from the body’s midline. He was also especially surprised by the equilibrium between form and function that play into the human body, citing the way that muscles cause features of the bones to emerge, but the same bone features exist for the muscle to have something on which to act.

“How does the body know how to do all this? It’s crazy,” he said. “But the design works, but it just happens—it’s part of our biology.

How We Move: The Gross Anatomy of Motion is now available to stream on Wondrium.