A new 3D atlas explores the mysteries of early embryonic development.
What happens from the 15th to the 60th day of pregnancy? A great deal, actually: an embryo goes through 17 distinct growth stages during this crucial period, all of which can be seen in the University of Amsterdam’s new 3D Atlas of Human Embryology, a three- dimensional tool that will make it easier for doctors to identify congenital defects.
To create the atlas, the Dutch team spent 45,000 hours analysing approximately 15,000 samples from human embryos, some of them more than 100 years old, at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Available free of charge at www.3dembryoatlas.com, the atlas can isolate certain organs or structures for closer viewing. The graphic above of an embryo at seven and a half weeks shows the skeletal system, the cardiovascular system (veins in blue, arteries in purple and umbilical vein in pink) and reconstructed organs except skin (neural tube in green, nerves in yellow).