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Human Body > I. Embryology > The Primitive Segments

8. The Primitive Segments

FIG. 20– Dorsum of human embryo, 2.11 mm. in length. (After Eternod.)
Toward the end of the second week transverse segmentation of the paraxial mesoderm begins, and it is converted into a series of well-defined, more or less cubical masses, the primitive segments (Figs. 18, 19, 20), which occupy the entire length of the trunk on either side of the middle line from the occipital region of the head. Each segment contains a central cavity—myocœl—which, however, is soon filled with angular and spindle-shaped cells.
  The primitive segments lie immediately under the ectoderm on the lateral aspect of the neural tube and notochord, and are connected to the lateral mesoderm by the intermediate cell-mass. Those of the trunk may be arranged in the following groups, viz.: cervical 8, thoracic 12, lumbar 5, sacral 5, and coccygeal from 5 to 8. Those of the occipital region of the head are usually described as being four in number. In mammals primitive segments of the head can be recognized only in the occipital region, but a study of the lower vertebrates leads to the belief that they are present also in the anterior part of the head, and that altogether nine segments are represented in the cephalic region.
Human Body > I. Embryology > The Primitive Segments