The early development of the nervous system in staged insectivore and primate embryos

J Comp Neurol. 1980 Oct 1;193(3):741-51. doi: 10.1002/cne.901930311.


The early development of the nervous system was studied in stage embryos of hemicentetes semispinosus, Microcebus murinus, Alouatta seniculus, Cebus appella, Cebus albifrons, macaca mulatta, and Homo sapiens. The specimens were assigned to Carnegie stages 11-13. Serial transverse sections were examined and graphic reconstructions were prepared. The early development of the neural tube is basically similar in all the species investigated but differences in detail are noticeable. The mesencephalic flexure serves in all cases as a landmark for malpighi's tripartite subdivision of the brain. The nonhuman embryos seem to show a little more variation than the human in the closure of the neuropores in relation to somitic count. With the exception of the later-appearing terminal-vomeronasal component, all major portions of the neural crest as classified by O'Rahilly ('65) are represented in both the nonhuman and the human embryos studied. No crest is present at the level of rhombomere 1, nor at rhombomere 3 except in the platyrrhines and some human embryos, nor at rhombomere 5 except in certain human specimens. An indication of the division of the trigeminal ganglion into its primary divisions is rare at stage 11 (C. apella), may be visible at stage 12 (Alouatta, macaca, Homo), and is definite (in Homo) at stage 13. Ganglionic contributions from head ectoderm (epipharyngeal placodes), as previously described in the human and some other vertebrate embryos, were sought and found in Cebus apella. In both nonhuman and human, a tendency is noted whereby the rostral limit of the occipitospinal crest, high at stage 11, seems to descend relatively at stage 12, and ascend again at stage 13 (at least in the human) to become associated with the appearance of the accessory and hypoglossal nerves. In general, the motor components of the nerves are identifiable before the sensory elements, and, in the present study, nerve fibers were first observed in the human at stage 13 in some of the cranial nerves and in the ventral roots of the spinal nerves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Cranial Nerves / embryology
  • Eulipotyphla / embryology*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Neural Crest / anatomy & histology
  • Primates / embryology*
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Nerves / embryology