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May 1958

Liver: Structure and Function.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1958;101(5):1014-1015. doi:10.1001/archinte.1958.00260170170028

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Sometimes I have wondered what was the first laboratory animal. Was it for experimental purposes or for clinical testing? Surely experiments must go back far earlier than Galen or recorded history. Perhaps the first laboratory animal was the sacrificed domestic creature whose liver was inspected for portents and omens. In fact, experimenters with a bemused sense of history still talk of sacrificing animals, though I have not found any altar even in lavishly appointed laboratories. In an ancient practice the experiment actually concerned society as the patient. The liver was studied by the priest-pathologist. It is even possible that roughly valid answers were obtained if a disease were endemic in domestic animals or if colonists going to a new area read bad omens in a diseased liver and so escaped some local epizootic plague. At any rate, since most ancient times the liver has been the focal point of interest

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