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10 33-Hour Chick Embryo

Whereas the 24-hour chick embryo was roughly equivalent to a 3-week human embryo, a 33-hour chick
embryo is roughly equivalent to a 4-week human embryo; what takes hours in a chick embryo takes
days in a human embryo. This dramatic difference in developmental rates, in embryos with such similar
developmental patterns maintained at roughly the same temperatures, teases the mind with questions.
Can you suggest any reasons for the difference? Publish them (I’m serious) or discuss them with your
lab colleagues.
You will be using whole mounts and serial cross sections to study the 33-hour chick embryo. Be
sure you are able to identify all structures printed in boldface, and record in your laboratory notebook
your answers to any questions posed. You will also find it useful to keep track of germ layers as you
study the cross sections. Do this by color-coding all the tissues in each cross-sectional diagram in the
chapter. Remember the cardinal code of embryological colors: blue = ectoderm; red = mesoderm;
yellow = endoderm; green = neural crest. The coloring is easy, and the corollaries you can derive from
it will serve you well. It teaches you the answers to all those dreaded questions that start out, “What is
the germ layer origin of…?”
Upon looking at the 33-hour whole mount, you will immediately notice that two major advances
have taken place since 24 hours of development. The anterior nerve cord is now a brain subdivided into
its major regions, and the rudiments of the circulatory system are present. Understand the general
outline of these advances to introduce yourself to this stage.

Central nervous system

The neural tube, closed along much of its length, has become specialized anteriorly to form the brain. It
has three major subdivisions—the forebrain (prosencephalon), midbrain (mesencephalon), and
hindbrain (rhombencephalon)—which are visible as a series of enlargements. The forebrain is further
divided into an anterior telencephalon and posterior diencephalon. The diencephalon is becoming
very complex: its walls have evaginated to form optic vesicles, which later become the optic cups; its
floor has evaginated to form the infundibulum, which later becomes the posterior part of the pituitary
gland; its roof, at this point, has no evaginations, but by 48 hours will have evaginated to form the
epiphysis, later to become the pineal gland. This is an astonishing array of derivatives. The hindbrain
is also subdivided, forming a metencephalon anteriorly and a myelencephalon posteriorly. This
organization of brain regions is the same as that of the adult brain, but becomes more difficult to
discern as differential growth of the regions, most notably of the telencephalon and metencephalon,
obscure the embryonic layout.