JF Ptak Science Books Post 1934
An entry in the series on the History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things.
This is fascinating--the anatomist Francis Sibson (1814-1876) in his Medical Anatomy (London, 1869) provided descriptive/illustrative examples of what the body's internal organs look like in cadavers and in living patients. Offhand I am not aware of such a comparison being done before this date, and as he clearly demonstrates (and which you can see more clearly by expanding the above example) there is of course a huge difference in the anatomy of the living and the deceased.
This is an enormous observation that seems as though it should have been made earlier, but perhaps it wasn't--though it must be admitted that "the obvious" isn't until it is. For example, Etienne Durand was the first architect to include examples of plans of different buildings on the same scale side-by-side, and that wasn't until the mid-19th century--clearly this would be pro forma for just about describing two elements of anything, but it just simply wasn't done until 160 years ago or so. This also applies in a way (though there are more complexities involved as to why this is different) to the antisepsis practices of Joseph Lister who in simply washing surgical tools between use on different patients (and hand-washing and the use of surgical masks and so on) increased the chances of surviving surgery by at least 50% (though I think that number is much bigger than that), and these practices weren't begun until the mid-19th century.
So the business of identifying "the obvious" is very tricky, because, well, something isn't obvious if it hasn't been done/seen before. Or, if it has been seen, it hasn't been seen seen. As in clouds--as present as they have been for the whole of human history they basically escaped classification by the great human natural history classifiers until the very early 19th century.
And when I looked at the history of the word "obvious" it seems to have made its first appearance in print in 1603, so I went naturally to William Shakespeare for a quote using the new word. Evidently, the great wordweaver never used "obvious". (See here for an index of all the words of Shakespeare.)
[Image printed by chromolithography after the artwork of William Fairland, 1869. Source: the National Library of Medicine.]