14. We are not cannibals.


A med student spends a lot of time in anatomy labs looking for muscles. There are hundreds of muscles in human body and most of them are observable with bare eyes. Thus, muscle is important in anatomy. Vice versa, structures that have not much to see with bare eyes are less important in anatomy. An example of less important anatomical structure is the pancreas which is associated with diabetes and digestion. Conversely, pancreas is important in biochemistry, internal medicine, and other subjects. Like so, the importance of anatomical structures varies according to different subjects.


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Most of the cadavers have little muscle, because most of them were ill and were not able to exercise much before death. Especially, the muscles in the head and neck are small in size. The same goes for the head and neck muscles of a chicken. However, there are numerous types of head and neck muscles, giving med students hard time trying to memorize them.


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Muscles in the leg are the biggest muscles in the entire body. This is because humans are erect, bipedal walkers. The leg muscles become larger as the person walks and runs.

Students studying anatomy must feel the muscles with all of their senses. Observing and touching the muscles is the basic of all. They must also hear what it sounds like to cut muscles (although they could barely hear it) as well as smell the muscles (although most of the odor would be from fixatives). However, they won't be able to taste the muscles. Cadaver contains fixatives and eating it would cause trouble. Even without the fixatives, tasting is not allowed by the law and is morally wrong. Students are not cannibals.

If you want to have a taste of muscles, you can leave the lab and head to a restaurant. You can eat a cow or pig which is a mammal just like us. I never compared the taste of human meat with the taste of beef or pork, but I assume the taste would be similar. I assume it would be the same way in which breast milk tastes similar to cow milk.

Whenever I eat beef or chicken with the students, I say "the last sense, taste, is allowed in this restaurant. This restaurant is the place where we finish our anatomy session. Now then, let's eat some more Korean-style raw beef!" Even though I make the students lose their appetite by saying something in this way, they have no problem eating.


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Here is an English joke. Vegetarians eat vegetables, so then do humanitarians eat humans? No. Cannibals eat humans, and humanitarian has a completely different meaning. During Renaissance, humanitarians like da Vinci thought that human was the center of the universe, not god. Thus, he started dissecting cadavers. Today, med students dissect cadavers. Therefore, they are humanitarians, not cannibals.