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Science Ink #4 – “Vesalius Brain”

The latest “Science Ink” provides a closer look at the tattoo of Kristin Cattrano, an artist who spent fifteen years as a painter before deciding she was interested more in science than art. Cattrano got this tattoo – a rendition of Andreas Vesalius’ “The Quivering Brain” – right before going back to school to study neuroscience.

“Vesalius Brain” - Photos and Text Courtesy of “Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed” by Carl Zimmer

For centuries, the medieval anatomists thought the best way to understand the brain was to read old books. They would pore through the writings of Greek and Roman scholars, like Aristotle and Galen, to learn the true nature of the human body. In the mid-1500’s, an anatomist named Andreas Vesalius realized at last that the doctors of the ancient world had not actually dissected humans. They had dissected animals instead, and extrapolated to our own anatomy. So Vesalius looked for himself, and drew pictures of the body’s interior unlike anything that had come before.

Check out more tattoos in “Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed” by Carl Zimmer.

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Carl Zimmer

    Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for the New York Times and magazines such as Discover, where he is a contributing editor and columnist. He is the author of twelve books, the most recent of which is “Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.” His website is