Book - Principles of Embryology (1956)

From Embryology
Revision as of 12:50, 23 November 2019 by Z8600021 (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Embryology - 28 May 2024    Facebook link Pinterest link Twitter link  Expand to Translate  
Google Translate - select your language from the list shown below (this will open a new external page)

العربية | català | 中文 | 中國傳統的 | français | Deutsche | עִברִית | हिंदी | bahasa Indonesia | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | မြန်မာ | Pilipino | Polskie | português | ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਦੇ | Română | русский | Español | Swahili | Svensk | ไทย | Türkçe | اردو | ייִדיש | Tiếng Việt    These external translations are automated and may not be accurate. (More? About Translations)

Waddington CH. Principles of Embryology (1956) The MacMillan Co., New York

   Principles of Embryology (1956): Part 1 - 1 The Science of Embryology | 2 The Gametes | 3 Fertilisation | 4 Cleavage | 5 The Echinoderms | 6 Spirally Cleaving Eggs | 7 The Ascidians and Amphioxus | 8 The Insects | 9 The Vertebrates: The Amphibia and Birds | 10 The Epigenetics of the Embryonic Axis | 11 Embryo Formation in Other Groups of Vertebrates | 12 Organ Development in Vertebrates | 13 Growth | 14 Regeneration | 15 The Role of Genes in the Epigenetic System | 16 The Activation of Genes by the Cytoplasm | 17 The Synthesis of New Substances | 18 Plasmagenes | 19 The Differentiating System | 20 Individuation - The Formation of Pattern and Shape | References
Historic Disclaimer - information about historic embryology pages 
Mark Hill.jpg
Pages where the terms "Historic" (textbooks, papers, people, recommendations) appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms, interpretations and recommendations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)
Online Editor  
Mark Hill.jpg If like me you are interested in development, then these historic embryology textbooks are fascinating in the detail and interpretation of embryology at that given point in time.

Conrad Hal Waddington (1905 – 1975)
Conrad Hal Waddington (1905 – 1975)

Conrad Hal Waddington CBE FRS FRSE (1905 – 1975) was a British developmental biologist, paleontologist, geneticist, embryologist and philosopher who laid the foundations for systems biology, epigenetics, and evolutionary developmental biology. His theory of genetic assimilation had a Darwinian explanation, leading evolutionary biologists including Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ernst Mayr considered that Waddington was using genetic assimilation to support so-called Lamarckian inheritance, the acquisition of inherited characteristics through the effects of the environment during an organism's lifetime. He had wide interests that included poetry and painting, as well as left-wing political leanings. In his book The Scientific Attitude (1941), he touched on political topics such as central planning, and praised Marxism as a "profound scientific philosophy". (text modified from Wikipedia)

Important Note - As with all historic texts, terminology and developmental descriptions may differ from our current understanding. There may also be errors in transcription or interpretation from the original text. Currently only the text and figures are available online, all figures will have legends added at a later date.

Note that there are within the online text, references to specific pages that are relevant only in the original hardcopy text.

Historic Embryology Textbooks

Principles of Embryology

Conrad Hal Waddington (1905 – 1975)
Conrad Hal Waddington (1905 – 1975)


In writing this book I have had three aims in mind. I have tried to expound a picture of embryology, which has been formed during a quarter of a century’s work, and to do so in a form sufficiently factual and systematic to be useful as a textbook for students specialising in that subject, or in the allied fields of genetics or experimental zoology. At the same time, I have attempted to meet the needs of research workers in other branches of biology who wish to find out what is going on in the study of development at the present time.

Embryology grew up as a branch of comparative anatomy; and when the science is referred to without qualification, even to-day most biologists probably think first of a descriptive account of developmental changes in anatomy and histology. But there is, of course, by now a very large body of data relating to the causal analysis of development. This is often regarded as a separate corpus of knowledge, referred to not as ‘embryology’ but as ‘experimental embryology’. A few decades ago, phylogeny and the evolutionary aspects of comparative anatomy constituted the core of animal biology, and it was not unjustified for the descriptive approach to development to be accorded the title ‘embryology’ tout simple. But now the situation seems to me to be different. The part of our subject which is of prime interest as a facet of general biology is that which deals with causal analysis, and if anyone claims to have studied embryology, this is the part which we ought to expect him to know about. I have therefore distributed the weight in this book in a manner quite different to that usual in textbooks of embryology, with more emphasis on the experimental and less on the descriptive approach. In fact, of the latter I have provided only the bare minimum which suffices to make the experimental work comprehensible. This book is, however, not intended to be for most students their first contact with embryology, but rather to serve the needs of their later university years; and it is to be expected that most users of it will have made some preliminary acquaintance with the anatomical facts, either in practical class work or through one of the many elementary texts which exist. Perhaps the ideal previous reading would be Barth’s excellent Embryology, which has the advantage of providing not only a fuller descriptive account, but also a very stimulating introduction to the experimental analysis.

In surveying such a wide field as embryology, within a compass that can be used as a text by students, a considerable amount of selection has to be exercised. It is natural, and indeed probably desirable, that an author should devote most attention to those aspects of the subject on which he has himself worked. I am conscious that I have given more space to the amphibia, birds and Drosophila, and less, say, to the echinoderms and the problems of fertilisation, than some other authors might have done. I think, however, that it is not merely a bee in my personal bonnet which has led me to include in the book a considerable discussion of topics which are conventionally counted as belonging to genetics. Embryology at the present time is in a betwixt-and-between state. It can no longer be wholly satisfied to operate in terms of the ‘complex components’ (such as organisers, fields and the like), which were discovered in the first successful experimental forays. On the other hand it is still too early to hope to find biochemical approaches which throw a general illumination on the scene. It is probably useful to try to formulate conceptional schemes in generalised chemical terms, such as those proposed by Weiss, or that discussed in Chapter XIX; but these must be recognised as no more than very abstract guides to possible directions which our thoughts may take, We have still to work through a region of facts and theories which deal with cellular constituents; and among this group of entities, which includes microsomes, mitochondria and such bodies, the genes (and possibly the plasmagenes) are certainly of crucial importance. It seems probable then that the most fundamental embryological theories of the immediate future will be phrased largely in terms of genes or of other bodies of a similar order of complexity; and in so far as this is true, no adequate discussion of embryology can be given without devoting a great deal of attention to the related aspects of genetics.

One of the difficulties in writing a book of this kind is to decide what references to literature should be provided. Anything approaching a complete bibliography would be too unwieldy. I have attempted two things; to provide an introduction to modern trends of work by giving a fairly large number of citations of recent papers whose results are being quoted; and to strike a balance between giving credit to the first discoverers of various facts and ideas, and indicating the most up-to-date summaries and reviews of the different topics. I can only beg the indulgence of any of my colleagues who may feel that I have cither overlooked their priority or failed to recognise the soundness of a recent summing-up. In any case, the bibliographic apparatus of such a book is inevitably a forest in which the student can only too easily lose himself. I have therefore, at the end of each chapter, given a very short selection of works which are suggested as valuable further reading, either to bring the student in contact with some of the original factual material, or to introduce him to some of the stimulating ideas which run parallel to, or even contradict, those advanced in the text.

Edinburgh, July 1954 C.H.W.


Part One - The Facts Of Development

1. The Science of Embryology

  1. The place of embryology among the biological sciences
  2. An outline of developtnent
  3. Phylogenetic theories of enbryology
  4. The mechanisms of development

Appendix. The concept of embryonic fields

2. The Gametes

  1. Spermatogenesis
  2. Oogenesis
  3. Follicles and membranes
  4. The morphogenetic structure of the egg

3. Fertilisation

  1. Activation
  2. The union of the nuclei
  3. Artificial parthenogenesis

4. Cleavage

  1. General features
  2. The pattern of cleavage and the pattern of the embryo
  3. Differentiation without cleavage
  4. Cleavage without nuclei
  5. The mechanism of cleavage

5. The Echinoderms

  1. Normal development
  2. The gradient system
  3. The dorso-ventral axis

6. Spirally Cleaving Eggs

7. The Ascidians And Amphioxus


page Vv

CO” Ww

10 23

30 31 37 40

47 $0 $1

$7 62

63 64 64








105 Vili







1. Embryonic development

2. Experimental analysis of some types of insect development 3. The transformation into the adult

4. The determination of imaginal characters


1. From the unfertilised egg to the formation of the blastula a. Amphibia b. Birds 2. Gastrulation: presumptive maps 3. The gastrulation movements a. Amphibia b. Birds 4. General properties of the gastrulation movements


. Birds .

. Evocation and individuation

. The physiology of organiser action

. What occurs during evocation?

. Regionally specific evocation

. Competence



1. Cyclostomes and other primitive fish 2. Teleosts 3. Reptiles ; 4. Mammals



. Comparative geography of the presumptive areas . Comparative causal embryology of the vertebrates


The general form of the embryo The development of the head

. The gut: anterior portion

. The trunk: ectodermal organs The trunk: endodermal structures The trunk: mesodermal structures . The tail and hind part of the body The kidneys

The limbs



1. Overall growth 2. The relative growth of parts 3. Growth gradients and transformations of shape


1. The origin of regeneration cells and their potentialities 2. Field action in regeneration

a. Coelenterates

b. Flat worns

c. Amphibia




1. Developmental pathways and their genetic control 2. Primary and secondary effects of genes


1. The effects of the cytoplasm on the nucleus

2. Effects on chromosomes and genes

3. Complete or partial inactivation of genes?

4. The mechanism of gene activation or inhibition


. The parts of the cell

. Arguing from the gene to the substance . Arguing from the substance to the gene . Genes and enzymes

. The synthesis of proteins



1. Exogetious plasmagenes

2. True plasmagenes

3. Visible cytoplasmic particles with genetic continuity 4. Gene-initiated plasmagenes

5. The role of plasmagenes in differentiation




. Primary and secondary expressions of pattern . The origination of pattern . Some actual patterns a. Drosophila wing venation b. The pentadactyl limb 4. Morphogenesis a. Movements of isolated cells b. Movements of tissues: amphibian gastrulation . Measurement of the forces and energy involved in morphogenesis 6. Individuation of the central nervous system in Amphibia




Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, May 28) Embryology Book - Principles of Embryology (1956). Retrieved from

What Links Here?
© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G