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Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community, medical students, and the medical industry. We will post a workweek daily medical or surgical term, its meaning and usage, as well as biographical notes on anatomists, surgeons, and researchers through the ages. Be warned that some of the images used depict human anatomical specimens.

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A Moment in History

Johann Gottfried Zinn

Johann Gottfried Zinn
(1727–1759)

Anatomist and botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn was born on December 6, 1727 in the city of Ansbach, Germany. He started his medical studies in his native city, becoming later a student of Dr.  Albrecht von Hallers at the University of Göttingen, and received his MD in 1749.

He left for Berlin to continue his studies but came back shortly thereafter. He became a professor of anatomy at the University of Göttingen and in 1753 he also became the director of the botanical garden in the same city.

He is known for his anatomical treatise on the anatomy of the human eye: “Descriptio anatomica oculi humani iconibus illustrata”. Because of this, his name has become an eponym in the “Zonule of Zinn”, a ring of strands that forms a fibrous band connecting the ciliary body with the capsule of the lens of the eye. Zonule of Zinn is sometimes referred to as the suspensory ligaments of the lens, or the “ligament of Zinn”. His name is also attached to the anular ring tendon found in the posterior aspect of the eye, the "anular tendon of Zinn". This ring serves as attachment for all the extraocular muscles of the eye and the optic nerve passes through the center of the ring.

Carol Linné (Carolus Linneaus) named a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceae known vernacularly today as “Zinnia” in his honor. Hover your cursor over his portrait to see the flower.

The chapter on orbital anatomy of his anatomy book, taken from the second edition in 1780, has been translated and the first of three parts is published in an issue of “Strabismus”

His book "Catalogus Plantarum Horti Academici Et Agri" can be seen online here.

His life was short, dying at the early age of 32, but his name lives on in the name of a beautiful flower.

Sources:
1. “Johann Gottfried Zinn" Simonz, HJ Strabismus – 2004, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 125 
2. "Anatomical Description of the Human Eye" Zinn, JG Strabismus, 13:45–52, 2005 
Images: Public Domain by Wikipedia Commons. 1. Own work I_am Jin, and H. Wilhem Dietz


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Scapula

The [scapula], known vernacularly as the "shoulder blade", is a flat, triangular bone that forms the posterior portion of the shoulder girdle. It is described with two surfaces, three borders, and three angles. The scapula attaches to the clavicle by way of the acromioclavicular joint and ligaments. Seventeen muscles attach to the scapula and are discussed in a different article.

This bone actually has two names depending on the language used. In English we use the word [scapula] which has a Latin origin, while in some Latin-based languages the word [om?plato] (Spanish, in this case) has a Greek origin!

[Scapula] originates from the Latin [scapula] (scapula), meaning “shoulder”, also “the back”. The later derivation into “shoulder blade” in English has no known history, except perhaps for the primitive use of animal scapulae as a blade or a spatula in daily chores.

In Greek the term [ωμοπλάτη] (o?mopl?ti?) was used to name the scapula. The origin of the word was the combination of the terms [ώμος] (??mos) meaning “shoulder”, and the word [πλάτη]  (pl?ti?) meaning “back”. One of the seventeen muscles that attach to the [scapula] is the [omohyoid], where the root term [-omo-] indicates that it attaches to the scapula.

It was Andreas Vesalius who popularized the name [scapula] selecting it from the many names this bone had at the time (1543), and is today the the accepted “Nomina Anatomica” term.

There is still discrepancy on the name of the bone in other languages.

Anterior view of the left scapula.  Image in Public Domain, by Henry Vandyke Carter - Gray's Anatomy
Anterior view of the left scapula.  Image in Public Domain, by Henry Vandyke Carter - Gray's Anatomy
• English: scapula
• Spanish: om?plato, also esc?pula
• Italian: scapula
• French: omoplate
• Romanian: omoplat
• Portuguese: esc?pula

In German, they used the word [schulterblatt] which means "shoulder blade".

The anatomical description of this bone continues in this article

Sources:
1. "Tratado de Anatomia Humana" Testut et Latarjet 8 Ed. 1931 Salvat Editores, Spain
2. "Gray's Anatomy" 38th British Ed. Churchill Livingstone 1995
3. “The Origin of Medical Terms” Skinner HA 1970 Hafner Publishing Co.
4. "Terminologia Anatomica: International Anatomical Terminology (FCAT)" Thieme, 1998
Note: The links to Google Translate include an icon that will allow you to hear the Greek or Latin pronunciation of the word.