The Seahorse In Your Brain: Where Body Parts Got Their Names

Joy Ho and Erin Ross in NPR:

Hippocampus-still_wide-7380d31ae62a7cdfa8051e1996572bedbc5bf361-s600-c85When the ancient Greeks were naming body parts, they were probably trying to give them names that were easy to remember, says Mary Fissell, a professor in the Department of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. “Sure, there were texts, but the ancient world was very oral, and the people learning this stuff have to remember it.” So the Greek scholars, and later Roman and medieval scholars, named bones and organs and muscles after what they looked like. The thick bone at the front of your lower leg, the tibia, is named after a similar-looking flute.


The hippocampus is one of several parts of our brain involved in memory. Some intrepid brain-dissector must have thought it looked like a seahorse, because that's exactly what hippocampus means in Greek. We agree; it really does.

More here.