Body Organisation

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In this chapter, the way the cells of the body are organised into different tissues is described. You will find out how these tissues are arranged into organs, and how the organs form systems such as the digestive system and the reproductive system. Also in this chapter, the important concept of homeostasis is defined. You are also introduced to those pesky things -- directional terms.


After completing this section, you should know:

  • the “Mrs Gren” characteristics of living organisms
  • what a tissue is
  • four basic types of tissues, their general function and where they are found in the body
  • the basic organisation of the body of vertebrates including the main body cavities and the location of the following major organs: thorax, heart, lungs, thymus, abdomen, liver, stomach, spleen, intestines, kidneys, sperm ducts, ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina, urinary bladder
  • the 11 body systems
  • what homeostasis is
  • directional terms including dorsal, ventral, caudal, cranial, medial, lateral, proximal, distal, rostral, palmar and plantar. Plus transverse and longitudinal sections


  • The characteristics of living organisms can be summarised by the words “MRS GREN.”
  • There are 4 main types of tissue namely: epithelial, connective, muscle and nervous tissues.
  • Epithelial tissues form the skin and line the gut, respiratory tract, bladder etc.
  • Connective tissues form tendons, ligaments, adipose tissue, blood, cartilage and bone, and are found in the dermis of the skin.
  • Muscular tissues contract and consist of 3 types: smooth, skeletal and cardiac.
  • Vertebrate bodies have a head, trunk and tail. Body organs are located in body cavities.
  • 11 body systems perform essential body functions most of which maintain a stable environment or homeostasis within the animal.
  • Directional terms describe the location of parts of the body in relation to other parts.

Learning Activities

Library of Resources

Presentations and Blackboard quizzes can be accessed by students of Otago Polytechnic.