Ever wonder who coined the term vagina? Or who discovered the fallopian tubes? Well, now you know.

Gabriele Falloppio (1523-1562) was born in Modena, Italy and served as a canon in the local church. He turned to medicine, studying under Andreas Vesalius at Padua. At first, he was a surgeon, but that didn’t work out so well because his patients had a habit of frequently dying. So he turned to anatomy, teaching at Padua and Pisa, since he had an ample supply of corpses. He studied corpses of humans and dead lions from the Medici zoo and was even accused of cutting up the living.

His Observationes anatomicae (1561) details his work. He was a key figure in the history of anatomy. He studied and mapped facial nerves and the canals of the ear. But his specialty was female anatomy. Falloppio is responsible for naming the vagina (Latin, "sheath") and placenta (Latin, "flat cake"). He also named the clitoris, but like many men, wasn’t quite sure how it worked. He did successfully explain the workings of the hymen, but was unable to discern the function of the fallopian tubes named for him. His extensive work was built upon by future scientists, including the generation of students he taught, such as Geronimo Fabricius.

He was also known as a botanist and was superintendent of the botanical gardens in Padua.

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