Although many directional terms have the same meaning in human and veterinary anatomy, certain terms that are commonly used in human anatomy have conflicting meanings in veterinary anatomy. Posture and head orientation differences between bipedal humans and quadrupedal animals gives rise to terminology conflicts for certain directions and planes.

The human anatomy terms that are not appropriate for veterinary quadrupeds are listed below under Directions and Planes. Conflicts exist for the trunk but not for the head in the case of Directions. Conflicts exist for the head but not for the trunk in the case of Planes (aside from a veterinary terminology preference for the term dorsal plane instead of frontal plane).

The quadruped head is oriented in the same direction as the rest of the body, but the human head is oriented with the face directed at a right angle to the rest of the body. This explains why terminology conflicts exist for the trunk but not for the head, and vice versa.

View Animations

View Head Directional Terms Summary


Superior - Inferior:
Trunk -- [CONFLICT] corresponds to veterinary cranial - caudal.
Head -- same meaning in human & veterinary anatomy.

Anterior - Posterior:
Trunk -- [CONFLICT] corresponds to veterinary ventral - dorsal.
Head -- same meaning in human & veterinary anatomy.


Coronal or Frontal:
Trunk -- corresponds to veterinary dorsal plane (this is merely a terminology preference issue).
Head -- [CONFLICT] corresponds to veterinary transverse plane.

Transverse or Axial:
Trunk -- same meaning in human & veterinary anatomy.
Head -- [CONFLICT] corresponds to veterinary dorsal plane.