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Human Body > I. Embryology > The Form of the Embryo at Different Stages of Its Growth

14. The Form of the Embryo at Different Stages of Its Growth

FIG. 58– Human embryo about fifteen days old. (His.)
First Week.—During this period the ovum is in the uterine tube. Having been fertilized in the upper part of the tube, it slowly passes down, undergoing segmentation, and reaches the uterus. Peters  (*9 described a specimen, the age of which he reckoned as from three to four days. It was imbedded in the decidua on the posterior wall of the uterus and enveloped by a decidua capsularis, the central part of which, however, consisted merely of a layer of fibrin. The ovum was in the form of a sac, the outer wall of which consisted of a layer of trophoblast; inside this was a thin layer of mesoderm composed of round, oval, and spindle-shaped cells. Numerous villous processes—some consisting of trophoblast only, others possessing a core of mesoderm—projected from the surface of the ovum into the surrounding decidua. Inside this sac the rudiment of the embryo was found in the form of a patch of ectoderm, covered by a small but completely closed amnion. It possessed a minute yolk-sac and was surrounded by mesoderm, which was connected by a band to that lining the trophoblast (Fig. 32). (*10
Second Week.—By the end of this week the ovum has increased considerably in size, and the majority of its villi are vascularized. The embryo has assumed a definite form, and its cephalic and caudal extremities are easily distinguished. The neural folds are partly united. The embryo is more completely separated from the yolk-sac, and the paraxial mesoderm is being divided into the primitive segments (Fig. 58).
FIG. 59– Human embryo between eighteen and twenty-one days old. (His.
Third Week.—By the end of the third week the embryo is strongly curved, and the primitive segments number about thirty. The primary divisions of the brain are visible, and the optic and auditory vesicles are formed. Four branchial grooves are present: the stomodeum is well-marked, and the bucco-pharyngeal membrane has disappeared. The rudiments of the limbs are seen as short buds, and the Wolffian bodies are visible (Fig. 59).
FIG. 60– Human embryo, twenty-seven to thirty days old. (His.)
Fourth Week.—The embryo is markedly curved on itself, and when viewed in profile is almost circular in outline. The cerebral hemispheres appear as hollow buds, and the elevations which form the rudiments of the auricula are visible. The limbs now appear as oval flattened projections (Fig. 60).
FIG. 61– Human embryo, thirty-one to thirty-four days old. (His.)
Fifth Week.—The embryo is less curved and the head is relatively of large size. Differentiation of the limbs into their segments occurs. The nose forms a short, flattened projection. The cloacal tubercle is evident (Fig. 61).
FIG. 62– Human embryo of about six weeks. (His.)
FIG. 63– Human embryo about eight and a half weeks old. (His.)
Sixth Week.—The curvature of the embryo is further diminished. The branchial grooves—except the first—have disappeared, and the rudiments of the fingers and toes can be recognized (Fig. 62).
Seventh and Eighth Weeks.—The flexure of the head is gradually reduced and the neck is somewhat lengthened. The upper lip is completed and the nose is more prominent. The nostrils are directed forward and the palate is not completely developed. The eyelids are present in the shape of folds above and below the eye, and the different parts of the auricula are distinguishable. By the end of the second month the fetus measures from 28 to 30 mm. in length (Fig. 63).
Third Month.—The head is extended and the neck is lengthened. The eyelids meet and fuse, remaining closed until the end of the sixth month. The limbs are well-developed and nails appear on the digits. The external generative organs are so far differentiated that it is possible to distinguish the sex. By the end of this month the length of the fetus is about 7 cm., but if the legs be included it is from 9 to 10 cm.
Fourth Month.—The loop of gut which projected into the umbilical cord is withdrawn within the fetus. The hairs begin to make their appearance. There is a general increase in size so that by the end of the fourth month the fetus is from 12 to 13 cm. in length, but if the legs be included it is from 16 to 20 cm.
Fifth Month.
—It is during this month that the first movements of the fetus are usually observed. The eruption of hair on the head commences, and the vernix caseosa begins to be deposited. By the end of this month the total length of the fetus, including the legs, is from 25 to 27 cm.
Sixth Month.—The body is covered by fine hairs (lanugo) and the deposit of vernix caseosa is considerable. The papillæ of the skin are developed and the free border of the nail projects from the corium of the dermis. Measured from vertex to heels, the total length of the fetus at the end of this month is from 30 to 32 cm.
Seventh Month.—The pupillary membrane atrophies and the eyelids are open. The testis descends with the vaginal sac of the peritoneum. From vertex to heels the total length at the end of the seventh month is from 35 to 36 cm. The weight is a little over three pounds.
Eighth Month.—The skin assumes a pink color and is now entirely coated with vernix caseosa, and the lanugo begins to disappear. Subcutaneous fat has been developed to a considerable extent, and the fetus presents a plump appearance. The total length, i. e., from head to heels, at the end of the eighth month is about 40 cm., and the weight varies between four and one-half and five and one-half pounds.
Ninth Month.—The lanugo has largely disappeared from the trunk. The umbilicus is almost in the middle of the body and the testes are in the scrotum. At full time the fetus weighs from six and one-half to eight pounds, and measures from head to heels about 50 cm.
Note 9.  Die Einbettung des menschlichen Eies, 1899. [back]
Note 10.  Bryce and Teacher (Early Development and Imbedding of the Human Ovum, 1908) have described an ovum which they regard as thirteen to fourteen days old. In it the two vesicles, the amnion and yolk-sac, were present, but there was no trace of a layer of embryonic ectoderm. They are of opinion that the age of Peters’ ovum has been understated, and estimate it as between thirteen and one-half and fourteen and one-half days. [back]
Human Body > I. Embryology > The Form of the Embryo at Different Stages of Its Growth