Henry Gray (18251861). Anatomy of the Human Body. 1918.
THE TERM Embryology, in its widest sense, is applied to the various changes which take place during the growth of an animal from the egg to the adult condition: it is, however, usually restricted to the phenomena which occur before birth. Embryology may be studied from two aspects: (1) that of ontogeny, which deals only with the development of the individual; and (2) that of phylogeny, which concerns itself with the evolutionary history of the animal kingdom.
In vertebrate animals the development of a new being can only take place when a female germ cell or ovum has been fertilized by a male germ cell or spermatozoön. The ovum is a nucleated cell, and all the complicated changes by which the various tissues and organs of the body are formed from it, after it has been fertilized, are the result of two general processes, viz., segmentation and differentiation of cells. Thus, the fertilized ovum undergoes repeated segmentation into a number of cells which at first closely resemble one another, but are, sooner or later, differentiated into two groups: (1) somatic cells, the function of which is to build up the various tissues of the body; and (2) germinal cells, which become imbedded in the sexual glandsthe ovaries in the female and the testes in the maleand are destined for the perpetuation of the species.
Having regard to the main purpose of this work, it is impossible, in the space available in this section, to describe fully, or illustrate adequately, all the phenomena which occur in the different stages of the development of the human body. Only the principal facts are given, and the student is referred for further details to one or other of the text-books1 on human embryology.
1. The Animal Cell
All the tissues and organs of the body originate from a microscopic structure (the fertilized ovum), which consists of a soft jelly-like material enclosed in a membrane and containing a vesicle or small spherical body inside which are one or more denser spots. This may be regarded as a complete cell. All the solid tissues consist largely of cells essentially similar to it in nature but differing in external form.
In the higher organisms a cell may be defined as a nucleated mass of protoplasm of microscopic size. Its two essentials, therefore, are: a soft jelly-like material, similar to that found in the ovum, and usually styled cytoplasm, and a small spherical body imbedded in it, and termed a nucleus. Some of the unicellular protozoa contain no nuclei but granular particles which, like true nuclei, stain with basic dyes. The other constituents of the ovum, viz., its limiting membrane and the denser spot contained in the nucleus, called the nucleolus, are not essential to the type cell, and in fact many cells exist without them.
Cytoplasm (protoplasm) is a material probably of variable constitution during life, but yielding on its disintegration bodies chiefly of proteid nature. Lecithin and cholesterin are constantly found in it, as well as inorganic salts, chief amon
Note 1. Manual of Human Embryology, Keibel and Mall; Handbuch der vergleichenden und experimentellen Entwickelungslehre der Wirbeltiere, Oskar Hertwig; Lehrbuch der Entwickelungsgeschichte, Bonnet; The Physiology of Reproduction, Marshall. [back]