Friday, July 23, 2021

Dr. Livingston's Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles ~ A LONG Timberdoodle Review

Dr. Livingston's Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles - Set of 7 is by far one of the coolest educational resources on the Timberdoodle website! Several of the jigsaw puzzles are used as part of the Timberdoodle Science curriculum kits. The Human Head ~ Puzzle I of VII is part of the 6th Grade Curriculum Kit. For the older student, in the 11th Grade Curriculum Kit, The Human Thorax ~ Puzzle II of VII is used. Once all seven puzzles are fully assembled it will make a 10ft human. The puzzles are 100% medically accurate and are incredibly detailed. They reveal the inner workings of the human anatomy by displaying a crosscut section of each working part of the human body. The puzzles are not only fun to put together but are a great way for students to learn anatomy. When you open the box, each puzzle contains an illustrated and labeled diagram. The recommended age for these puzzles is 14 and older. With that said, my 13-year-old worked on the puzzles and was learning right along with her older siblings. Just a fair warning: this blog post is quite long with pictures and writing. I guarantee it will be worth your time! Remember, it covers SEVEN puzzles!


The puzzles are illustrated by Mesa Schumacher who is a certified Medical and Biological Illustrator. She received her Master's degree in Medical Illustration from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Schumacher also has degrees from the University of Washington and Stanford University. She has also studied Fine Arts a GAGE Academy in Seattle. She has a passion for creating, storytelling images, drawing, and animating. 

The boxes are very nice and resemble memory boxes that you would purchase. They have magnetic closures. You could easily display them on your bookshelf along with books. 


The puzzles pieces are very thick, and the colors are very vibrant. The detail on the puzzle pieces is amazing, whether you are seeing intestinal veins, long strands of tendon, or the loops of the intestine. Each completed puzzle is much larger than an average adult, a 200% magnification. 

To keep the completed puzzles intact and safe until all 7 puzzles were completed I knew I had to come up with a plan. I finally decided that Project Display Boards would be perfect for the job! I love the Dollar Store. I used one for the head, thorax, and abdomen and two each for the arms and legs. Using the display boards to put the puzzles together gave us a great flat surface and also made it easy to move the puzzles from room to room. After completing each puzzle we stacked the display boards. Score for saving on space too. 

My 18-year-old daughter did the majority of putting these puzzles together. She did receive help from her siblings throughout the process. Since my daughter was the main person interlocking all of the various veins, vessels, ligaments, marrow, intestine, and organs I thought it was only fitting to have her help me write this review. I want to thank her for her contribution to this review. Thank you Karis. My daughter's first impressions and thought's about these puzzles were, "I have always been a puzzler, so when my mom told me that we would be getting Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles, I was beyond excited because who wouldn't want to go all Dr. Frankenstein on a 10 foot long anatomy puzzle? After the initial excitement, there was a small feeling of apprehension just looking at the intricacy of the puzzles. I decided I would just have to wait for the puzzles to arrive to see who would win: Dr. Frankenstein or the monster."

441 pieces

My daughter's witty yet intricate investigation of the human head. "The puzzles get here and we start with the poor decapitated head, who has obviously seen some things. Before I say anything, I must say that he has a lovely shaped head, and he definitely was not dropped as a child. This puzzle probably has the most labels out of any of the other puzzles, so I’m just going to go through a few. Now, most people talk about just the brain in general, but there is so much more to focus on than just the wrinkles in it. Notice how each section of the brain has a different shape and texture than the others. Look at the cerebellum, the brainstem, the septum pellucidum, the cortex. Each of these sections is drawn with such unique detail that you have to stop and admire it. Next look at his eye and how it's rooted into the head. You can see muscles at work in this puzzle. I wonder who stared into the dreamy brown eyes before he lost his head. Lastly, we are going to look at the intricate workings of muscles and nerves in the neck. The accessory nerve (CN XI) seems to be tangled up with the levator scapulae muscle, but yet they actually are working side by side in harmony. I can’t imagine being twisted up with someone else and still being able to do my job, but that’s just me."

It wasn't until we constructed this jigsaw puzzle that I realized that the human brain was separated by confluence of sinuses. I always imagined the brain to be one structure. Seeing the cross cut structure of the brain it is fascinating to see the anatomy of the human brain. Seeing how the eye is attaches to muscles is crazy. Okay, I was really fascinated by the small hole on the base of the jaw called the mental foramen. I had to look it up to find out what it was. So after a bit of research I found that it is usually situated between the first and second inferior premolars. The mental nerve along with arteries and veins exit through the mental foramen. The illustrator did a fantastic job at detailing the muscles, veins, arteries, and nerves in the neck. 

561 pieces

About the thorax my daughter said, "Moving on to the thorax. My sister and I obviously start with the edges, but then gravitate toward different parts of the puzzles. What’s great about working on this puzzle in a team is the learning experience. We started out by pointing out where we were working on the box to show each other what pieces we needed, but eventually started saying the proper names for everything. Never in my life did I ever think I would ask my sister if she had found any pieces of the septum while working on a puzzle. When doing this puzzle, it is hard not to appreciate the art work that went into making this puzzle: the shading, the minute detailing of the muscles, the texturing of the Inferior vena cava, etc. This puzzle also showed me that my whole life is a lie because I always thought that both of my lungs were the same. Now, I see how much more complex my left lung is than my right."

Breathing! The beating of our heart! Such a simple act, but something that we all take for granted. Just looking at this completed puzzle in 200% magnification awed me. The heart with its arteries, ventricles, valves, muscles, and pathways all have to work in perfect harmony. The puzzle clearly shows how the right lung is larger than the left lung. The right lung has three lobes and the left lung only has two. The grayish trachea splits between the left and the right lungs which turn into the bronchus, then into smaller bronchi and finally bronchioles. The puzzle even has amazing detail of the pectoralis muscles and the superficial fascia. 

511 pieces
Here are my daughter's personal and observational thoughts about the human abdomen. "Next up, we have the abdomen. This puzzle was especially fun to do because past surgeries have left me without a gallbladder and an appendix. I find particular enjoyment in pointing those parts out and saying, “I don’t have one of those.” The artwork in this section shows just how complex the human abdomen is. Notice how the small intestines fit perfectly together with the jejunum and the ileum. It is like a puzzle within a puzzle. Look at the mesentery and appreciate how well it is portrayed in this puzzle. You can tell just by looking at the intricacy of this puzzle that it attaches the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen, and other organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen. It is such an odd concept to think that the stomach isn’t taking up the majority of the space in our abdomens. That award would go to the liver, which weighs up to 3–3.5 pounds. Overall, I think the abdomen was my favorite."

The puzzle pieces fit beautifully inside the box for storage. 

The completed puzzle! Isn't it amazing? I thought it was really awesome to look at this completed puzzle along with the labeled diagram on the box and marvel at just how amazing the human body really is. Our family deals with an incredible amount of GI issues and it is really kind of neat to look at such a HUGE cross section of the abdomen and see all of the working parts, or in our case, non functioning parts or parts that have been removed. I didn't know that the gallbladder was green! I have only seen very SICK gallbladders that are grayish, black in appearance due to being filled with gallstones. The fingerlike villi that lines the intestine is so detailed in the puzzle. The lining of the stomach with its wrinkles, grooves, and crannies resembles the brain. The intestine as they loop and turn looks like a magnified brain under a 
microscope. Maybe, that is why they call your gut your second brain? The vast network of intestinal arteries and veins is mind boggling. 

478  pieces 

About the right arm, my daughter said, "The right arm is ready for his long awaited turn. The fact that the human body has two arms gives us the chance to look at the musculature and the skeletal structures of the arms separately without getting overwhelmed. The right arm is clearly focused on the musculature point of view. To jump right in, I find it immensely interesting how the cephalic vein starts at the top of the arm forked in two and makes its way down the arm, branching off into more and more independent segments. These veins then intertwine with the nerves and arteries in the hand. Notice how the same system goes for the median nerve which then serpentines to each finger. This puzzle shows how complex the relationship between the muscles and the tendons are. Looking closely, they almost meld into each other, enabling us to do even the simplest acts. The design of this section of the puzzle is undoubtedly done after extensive research, and helps those who are doing the puzzles to appreciate the human body that much more, while easily learning about it."

Mom and daughter's working together. 

The completed puzzle below shows the fibrous sheath that wraps around the phalanges like rubber bands that act as  both a supportive as well as protective layer for the inner parts of the digits. The maze like collection of veins, arteries, and nerves tunnel their way up and down the arm often branching to the left or to the right like a vast network of intricate ant tunnels. Putting together the biceps brachia muscle was by far the hardest part of this puzzle. The bicipital aponeurosis reminds me of fishing line. It is so very thin and delicate looking. 

472 pieces

While observing the left arm my daughter said, "The left arm seems to be up next, which covers the skeletal structure of the arm. The first aspect of this puzzle that I would like to draw your attention to are the nerves. They fork out, under, and over. These nerves are responsible for carrying messages from the brain to parts along the arm for movement, feeling and reflexes. Try to remember an instance in which you were stuck or hit by something that caused you to pull away without thinking. Maybe you accidentally stuck yourself with a thumbtack. The reason you don’t have to think about pulling away is because these nerves already sent a message to your brain, telling your arm to do so. My man here might not be alive anymore, but he’s still got those nerves. Next, look at the bones in this puzzle, connected by ball and socket joints and hinge joints. The amazing design of the human body allows us to have physical dexterity, and the outstanding design of this puzzle allows us to overlook it all."

Beginning to assemble the left arm next to the right arm. 

We decided to construct the second arm alongside the first one since space provided. 

While the right arm focuses more on the muscle and tendon structure of the arm the left arm focuses more on the bones. Underneath the mirad of veins, arteries, and nerves the illustrator depicts each small bone of the hand. We see how the flexor digitorum superficial tendons extend down through each finger from the wrist. These tendons meet up at the wrist and are joined at the flexor digitorum profundus muscle. Our bones alone rely on an ongoing system of of muscles, tendons, marrow, blood supply, and movement in order to provide our bodies with health. I love the illustrator's cross cut of the pectorals major muscle. 

848 pieces

About the right leg my daughter said, "Right leg hopping up to plate. We’re back to musculature right sides. Before I mention anything else, tell my man here ain’t thicc. If I had to guess, he never skipped leg day at the gym. The human body was designed to be supported by your legs, making it understandable why we need a great degree of muscles in our legs. Not only do these muscles have to support you, but they also have to provide a means of locomotion. This is where the tendons come into play. Tendons are dense fibrous tissues that bind the muscle to the bone. When muscle contracts, the tendon pulls on the bone, causing movement. Also, a tendon’s contribution to joint stability could not be done without. That is why there are tendons surrounding the patella bone. High School A&P knowledge plus Dr. Livingston's Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle equals higher understanding of the human body."

Listening to music while tackling The Right Leg. 

Haha, look at my daughter's iPhone in relation to the size of the leg! 

The sense of accomplishment is real ya'll! Only an 18-year-old could stay hunched over these puzzles day after day, week after week. That is one fine looking leg, isn't it? The oh so cute looking patella bone that it nestled within tendons and ligaments looks kind of like an egg. Let me tell you, when you break it, it HURTS!!! Those beautiful yellow nerves that weave up and down your leg send some mighty strong messages up into your cranium that there is PAIN which in turn sends signals to your sternum in which your lungs reside which then sends a message back up to your skull and to your brain which then tells your lungs to try and BREATHE! True story. Okay, back to the right leg. The illustrator, Mesa Schumacher does an amazing job detailing how the muscles of the upper leg merge into the quadriceps femurs tendon that inserts into the patella bone.  

864 pieces 

For the seventh and last puzzle my daughter said, "Lastly, we have the left leg that covers the skeletal structure of the leg. When you think skeleton, you think bone, not veins and arteries. Here we are, though, seeing the femoral vein and femoral artery fully attached to the femur. To give a short summary as to why you are seeing these veins and arteries: The femoral arteries deliver oxygenated blood to the leg, along with the anterior tibial artery. Meanwhile, the femoral vein and anterior tibial vein drain the leg, knee, ankle, and tibiofibular joints. I have not gone into nearly enough depth for someone to be able to understand all the features in this puzzle , but I think I have explained enough to make it understood that the skeleton is not all bone. This puzzle has definitely illustrated this wonderfully."

At 200% magnification it is fun being able to study the bones of the leg and how the arteries and veins snake up and down as well as around the bones. The large femoral nerve at the base of the upper pelvic bone branches out. There is another nerve in the lower leg, the common fibular nerve that branches out to the lower portion of the lower leg. The cut, cross section of the adductor magnus muscle gives students a look at what the muscle looks like on the inside. 

It is finally time to assemble our 10ft anatomically correct human jigsaw puzzle! 
I have named him Hermann after one of our beloved pediatric surgeon's. 

Here is Hermann all put together. 

Here is my puzzle assembler next to Hermann. 

Here is another adorable picture of our dog, Mazie with Hermann. 
She has taken a liking to lying next to him.

And another one of my daughters..

In closing, here are just some close ups of the completed puzzle so that you can see how AWESOME it is! Really, pictures cannot do it justice. I cannot say enough about how amazing this puzzle experience was for my kiddos. Not only was it fun putting the puzzles together but they learned so much about the human body along the way. The labeled diagrams that accompany each puzzle are most definitely a bonus! This enables the student to visualize the anatomy and put correct terminology to every part along the way. This jigsaw puzzle is truly a hands-on learning lab. Why would I call it a lab? According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary a lab is defined as: a place equipped for experimental study in a science or for testing and analysis a research laboratory broad: a place providing opportunity for experimentation, observation, or practice in a field of study. Well, as homeschoolers our homes are our science labs. Dr. Livingston's Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle provided opportunity for observation and practice in the field of study in Anatomy. Therefore, it was a lab, and a quite long lab at that. We were all in awe at the amazing detail that the illustrator was able to put into each puzzle piece and the puzzle. This puzzle is a great learning tool due to its 200% magnification and a student's ability to see from head to toe all the working of the human body.

In conclusion, my daughter had this to say about Dr. Livingston's Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles, "After the puzzle is done, you have to stand back and admire the hard work that went into making this puzzle and into doing it. Something about these puzzles I didn’t notice until after I had completed them was that the border throughout the entire puzzle is the same, and if you look closely, you might notice that the very outside of the puzzle is a beige. That’s not so noteworthy, but right after the beige looks like a layer of the epidermis under the skin. This leads me to think that the entire puzzle man, whom we have named Hermann, still has his skin very much intact and looking baby smooth."

As a family we give Dr. Livingston's Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles ★★★★★ stars! 

If you are interested in studying just one or two of the body parts 
here are the links.


  1. That is so awesome! Thanks for the extra effort you put into providing this in-depth review... and a special thank-you to your daughter!

  2. These puzzles are absolutely incredible! I hope and pray one of my children will become a doctor because I've always been fascinated by anatomy and health, and it's such a crucial calling. Love that Timberdoodle sells these high quality puzzles to spark interest in anatomy and teach children about the minutest wonders of creation.


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