Embryology Historic Terminology

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Historic 1877 drawing of pregnancy
An Atlas of Topographical Anatomy (1877)

Historically many names and terminology in medicine and biology were given names based upon Latin or Greek roots. In addition, many discoveries were given names (eponyms) based upon the original discoverer or by the discoverer referring to other key researchers. In the late nineteenth century this led to the confusing list of more than 50,000 terms used for various body parts. Today many of these historic terms have been replaced in the Terminologia Anatomica with about 7,500 simplified descriptive names.[1] This can also mean that a single structure can be identified by a range of names to confuse the unwary student.

Wilhelm His attempted to standardise anatomy terminology with the Basel Nomina Anatomica (BNA, His 1895). This system was updated through a number of editions until replaced by the Nomina Anatomica (1956) and subsequently by the Terminologia Anatomica (1998).

I have attempted within the glossary to include developmentally related historic and modern equivalents. Within the notes I generally use the modern terminology and may refer to historic terms in brackets or in a terms list at the bottom of a notes page. Eventually a similar list should appear below, but there are also many good online medical glossaries that should help clarify misunderstandings.

In addition, during development an adult structure or tissue may go through a range of different intermediate forms and names, this though is not strictly a problem of terminology.

Links: Embryology History | Embryologists | Glossary
Embryology History: 1600-1699 | 1700-1799 | 1800-1899 | 1900-1909 | 1910-1919 | 1920-1929 | 1930-1939 | 1940-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | Historic Papers | Embryologists
History Links: Historic Embryology Papers | Historic Embryology Textbooks | Embryologists | Historic Vignette | Historic Periods | Historic Terminology | Human Embryo Collections | Carnegie Contributions | 17-18th C Anatomies | Embryology Models | Category:Historic Embryology
Historic Papers: 1800's | 1900's | 1910's | 1920's | 1930's | 1940's | 1950's | 1960's | 1970's | 1980's

Historic Person/Term and (Modern) Term

Albarran glands

(Albarran's glands, glands of Albarran) submucosal glands located in the subcervical region of the prostate that empty into the posterior urethra. Named after Joaquin Maria Albarrán y Dominguez (1860 – 1912) a Cuban urologist.

ampulla of Vater

(hepatopancreatic ampulla) formed by union of pancreatic and common bile ducts, entering the duodenum at the major duodenal papilla. Named after Abraham Vater (1684 – 1751), the German anatomist who first published in 1720 a description of this structure. (More? Liver Histology)

Auerbach's plexus

(myenteric plexus) In 1864 Auerbach first described the neural plexus lying between the longitudinal and circular smooth muscle layers of the gastrointestinal tract. The plexus has both parasympathetic and sympathetic input and is involved in the rhythmic peristaltic contractions of the gut wall. A second smaller submucosal plexus (Meissner's plexus) is associated with mucosal secretion (secretomotor). Plexus named after Leopold Auerbach (1828 – 1897) a German anatomist and neuropathologist born in Breslau. (More? Neural Crest - Enteric Nervous System

Balbiani body

(mitochondrial cloud) Oocyte structure named after Balbiani, Edouard Gérard, 1825-1899 (Leçons sur les sporozoaires, cours d'embryogénie comparée du College de France, 1884). In 1993, Kloc et al. showed that the Balbiani body/mitochondrial cloud in Xenopus is a vehicle that transports localized RNA to the vegetal pole of the oocyte. (More? oocyte)

Barker Hypothesis

(Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Fetal Origins Hypothesis, Fetal Origins Hypothesis of Disease) Term named after the researcher, Barker who began a statistical analysis in the UK, of low birth weight data (early 1900's). The hypothesis has since been renamed several times and the current naming Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHad) reflects the wider application to the in utero influences leading to permanent changes in the embryo, then fetus, and postnatally in low birth weight, which predisposes to chronic disease in adult life. (More? Developmental Origins of Health and Disease)

Barr body

(inactive X chromosome) Name given to a visible cellular feature at the periphery of the nucleus, produced by the presence of the inactivated single X chromosome in females. Named after Murray Barr (1908 – 1995), a Canadian physician and medical researcher who first identified this cellular structure. (More? X inactivation | PMID 18120749)

Bartholin's gland

(greater vestibular gland) A pair of female external genital tract glands which secretes mucus to lubricate the vagina. The equivalent male gland is the Bulbourethral gland or Cowper's gland. Named after Caspar Bartholin the Younger (1655–1738) a Danish anatomist. (More? Female | genital)

Benckiser's hemorrhage

Fetal bleeding due to the rupture of one or several placenta vessels located within the presentation area. Associated with placenta previa, vasa previa, and velamentous insertion of the cord. (More? Placenta Previa | Vasa Previa | Velamentous Cord Insertion | Placenta - Abnormalities)

Blaschko lines

Also called lines of Blaschko an integumentary feature that may represent pathways of epidermal cell migration and proliferation during development. Often seen associated in a number of skin diseases. Named after Alfred Blaschko a German dermatologist who first described the feature in 1901. (More? integumentary)

Botallo duct

(ductus arteriosus, ligamentum arteriosum, ductus Botallo, ductus Botalli) Describes the vascular connection (shunt) that exists prenatally between the aortic arch and the pulmonary artery. Named after Botallo (1519 or 1530 - 1587/88 or 1600) an Italian surgeon at the French royal court. (More? Patent Ductus Arteriosus)

Bowman's capsule

Describes the cup-shaped double epithelium surrounding the glomerulus of the nephron within the kidney. Named after Sir William Bowman (1816 - 1892), an English physician, histologist and physiologist. (More? renal | Renal Histology)

Bowman's gland

(olfactory gland) Describes the small mucous glands located in the nasal cavity olfactory region lamina propria, their secretions moisturise the overlying epithelium. Named after Sir William Bowman (1816 - 1892), an English physician, histologist and physiologist. (More? Respiratory Histology)

Braun's canal

(neurenteric canal, archenteric canal, blastoporic canal) This transient communication channel occurs briefly between the neural tube, notochordal canal, and gut endoderm around the time of gastrulation. Named for Carl Ritter Braun von Fernwald (1822-1891) an Austrian obstetrician. (More? Week 3 | Gastrulation | SEM image 1 | SEM image 2 | | SEM image 3)

Braun-Fernwald sign

This obstetric term refers to how the implantation site at GA week 4 to 5 leads to an asymmetrical enlargement and softening of the uterine fundus. Named for Carl Ritter Braun von Fernwald (1822-1891) an Austrian obstetrician. (More? implantation | Week 3)

Cajal bodies

(CB) Ramon y Cajal originally identified these small nuclear organelles in cells, they have various suggested functions and are localized to the nucleolar periphery or within the nucleoli. Ramon y Cajal (1852 – 1934) was a Spanish histologist, neuroscientist, and Nobel laureate. Also historically called Nucleolar Accessory Bodies. (More? Ramon y Cajal)

Call-Exner bodies

A histological eosinophilic feature seen in the developing ovarian follicle granulosa layer of some species, including human. Appears as a spherical space staining as an eosinophilic region and contains basal lamina components (type IV collagen and laminin) similar to those of the follicular basal lamina. Named after Emma Louise Call (1847 - 1937) one of the first American women physician and Sigmund Exner (1846 – 1926) an Austrian physiologist. (More? oocyte | Week 1)

Canals of Hering

(Hering's canal, intrahepatic bile ductules) Liver micro-anatomical structure. Named after Karl Ewald Konstantin Hering (1834 – 1918) a German physiologist. (More? Liver Development)

Canal of His

(thyro-glossal duct) A transient developmental duct associated with the descent of thyroid cells from the endodermal floor of the pharynx to the anterior neck region of the adult anatomy. (More? thyroid)

canal of Nuck

The canal is an abnormal patent pouch of peritoneum extending into the labia majora of women. The equivalent structure of the testis abnormality formed from the processus vaginalis. Named in 1691 after Anton Nuck (Antonius Nuck van Leiden) (1650 - 1692) a Dutch anatomist.

canal of Cloquet

(Cloquet's canal, Stilling's canal, hyaloid canal) A developmental eye feature now called the hyaloid canal. The hyaloid canal in the embryo contains the hyaloid artery that supplies blood to the developing lens. Named after Jules G. Cloquet (1790-1883) a French anatomist and Benedict Stilling (1810-1879) a German anatomist. (More? vision)

Cowper's gland

(bulbourethral gland) A male genital tract gland which secretes a small amount of a thick clear mucous fluid prior to ejaculation, the alkaline content apparently buffers acidity of the urethra. The equivalent female genital tract gland is the greater vestibular gland or Bartholin gland. Named after William Cowper (1666 – 1709) an English anatomist. (More? Male | genital)

Crescents of Gianuzzi

(serous demilune) A gland term referring to the crescent-shaped patches of serous cells surrounding the mucous region in mixed glands. (More? gland)

Cushing's syndrome

(hypercortisolism) A relatively rare metabolic hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body’s tissues to high levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol, most commonly affects adults aged between 20 to 50 and also the obese with type 2 diabetes. (More? Endocrine - Adrenal Development | NIH - NIDDK)

discus proligerus

(Template:Cumulus oophorus) the granulosa cells within the developing astral follicle that form a column of cells that attach the oocyte to the antral follicle wall.

Deiter's cells

(phalangeal cells, outer sustentacular cells in organ of Corti) Hearing microanatomy term named after Otto Friedrich Karl Deiters (1834 - 1863), a German anatomist and histologist from Bonn.

Deiter's nucleus

(lateral vestibular nucleus) Neural term named after Otto Friedrich Karl Deiters (1834 - 1863), a German anatomist and histologist from Bonn.

Descemet's membrane

(basement membrane of corneal posterior endothelium) Vision term first named (1758) after Jean Descemet, (1732 - 1810) a Paris anatomist, surgeon and botanist. (More? Vision Development)

Down's syndrome

(trisomy 21) Common name for trisomy 21, the most common human aneuploidy where an extra copy of chromosome 21 is found in the cell genome. Named after John Langdon Down ( 1828 – 1896), a British physician who first described the syndrome in 1866. (More? Trisomy 21 | 1866 paper)

duct of Bellini

(collecting duct) Historic anatomical term for the papillary collecting duct within the renal medullary region of the kidney. (More? Renal System Development)

duct of Cuvier

(common cardinal vein) Historic anatomical term for the paired embryonic blood vessels that each receive an ascending and descending vein and both empty into the sinus venosus. Named after Georges Cuvier a French scientist.


Historic embryology term for what we now call endoderm. (More? Gastrulation)


(extra-embryonic coelom)

Fallopian tube

(uterine tube, uterine horn, oviduct, salpinx) Term for the paired uterine arms extending laterally from the body of the uterus and opening into the peritoneal cavity. The uterine tube can be divided into 4 distinct parts/regions (infundibulum, ampulla, isthmus, intramural). Named after Gabriele Falloppio (1523–1562), an Italian anatomist. (More? Uterus Development)

folds of Heister

Histology term describing cystic duct mucosal folds containing muscle fibers in the proximal mucosa of the cystic duct, also called spiral valves of Heister). First described by Heister in 1732. PMID: 15696536

foramen Botalli

(ostium secundum of Born) Historic embryology term for the foramen ovale blood shunt between the right and left atrium. Named after Leonardo Botallo (1530 -1571) an Italian physician and military surgeon. The term "ductus Botalli" used to describe the truncus arteriosus is a misnomer, introduced through a poor translation. (More? Heart Tutorial | PMID 17152587 | PMID 18504231)

Frorlep’s ganglion

(first spinal ganglion)

Gartner's duct

A female developmental abnormality caused by the persistance of the mesonephric duct (normally lost in females) when the ureteric bud fails to separate from the mesonephric duct and can generate a broad ligament cyst or vaginal cyst. Named after Hermann Treschow Gartner (1785-1827) a Danish surgeon and anatomist. (More? Genital System - Abnormalities)

Gasser's ganglion

(Gasserian ganglion, trigeminal ganglion, CN V) The Gasserian ganglion or semilunar ganglion is the historic name for the fifth cranial nerve (CN V) sensory and motor functions related to the face and mouth. This paired cranial nerve at the level of the pons has three major branches: the ophthalmic nerve (V1), the maxillary nerve (V2), and the mandibular nerve (V3). Antonius Hirsh described the ganglion in 1765 and had named the ganglion in the honour of his teacher, Johann Lorenz Gasser (1723-1765) an Austrian anatomist. (More? Gray Fig 778 | neural)

germinal epithelium of Waldeyer

(germinal epithelium) A cuboidal epithelium covering the ovary. A historic misnomer based upon Waldeyer's (1870) hypothesis that germ cells arise from this coelomic epithelium. We now know that during development Template:Primordial germ cells migrate into both the ovary and testis.

(More? Gray Fig 1113 | ovary)


(polar body} Historic terminology for the polar body, the exclusion body formed for the maternal additional genetic material formed during oocyte meiosis.

(More? Image polar bodies | Zygote)

Graafian follicle

(preovulatory follicle, ovulating follicle or type 8 (>1000 cells) The historic term describing most hormonally sensitive and developed antral follicle that is released by ovulation each menstrual cycle. Named after Regnier de Graaf (1641 – 1673) a Dutch anatomist and physician who described the anatomy of the uterine tube and the development of follicles in the ovary. Ovarian Follicle Stages: primordial follicle - primary follicle - secondary follicle - preovulatory follicle (More? ovary | oocyte | menstrual cycle | Lecture - Fertilization | Lecture - Genital Development)

Guthrie test

A newborn blood screening test carried out for a variety of known genetic disorders. Blood is collected using a heel prick and spotted onto a test sheet to dry for later testing. (More? Guthrie test | Dr Robert Guthrie | Neonatal Diagnosis)

Hamburger Hamilton Stages

Chicken stages of development named after the 2 authors of a paper that divides the 21 days of chicken embryo development into 46 defined stages. These were published in: Series of Embryonic Chicken Growth. J. Morphology, 88 49 - 92 (1951). (More? Chicken Development | Hamburger Hamilton Stages)

hare lip

(cleft lip) Historic term describing the appearance of a cleft lip being similar to that of a rabbit upper lip. The term has long ago been discarded as inappropriate and should not be used, but may appear in some of the historic content on this site. (More? [[[Palate Development]])

Hassall's bodies

(Hassall's corpuscles) Thymus histological structures that appear in fetal development and increase in number until puberty, then decreases. Named after Arthur Hill Hassall (1817-1894) a British physician and chemist. (More? thymus)

Haversian canal

The historic term used to describe histologically a small central canal in the Haversian system bone microstructure that contains blood vessels for osteocyte nutrition and nerves for sensation. Named after Clopton Havers (1650-1702) an English physician and anatomist. PMID 12999959 (More? Bone Histology | bone | Lecture - Musculoskeletal)

Haversian system

(osteon) The term used to describe the histological and micro-anatomical unit structure (principal structure) of compact bone. Named after Clopton Havers (1650-1702) an English physician and anatomist. PMID 12999959 Consists of a central cavity surrounded by lamellar bone matrix within which osteocytes reside. The central cavity or canal (Haversian canal) contains blood vessels for osteocyte nutrition and nerves for sensation. (More? Bone Histology | bone | Lecture - Musculoskeletal)

Heubner's artery

(medial striate artery, long central artery) also called the recurrent artery of Heubner, a branch of the anterior cerebral artery arising from the A1-A2 junction (44%) or the proximal A2 segment (43%), or more rarely from the A1 segment. An embryologically early developing artery.PMID 31984434 Named after the German paediatrician Otto Heubner (1843-1926).PMID 11117858 (More? artery)

Henle's Layer

The outer layer of cells of inner root sheath of hair follicle. Named after the anatomist Freidrich Gustav Jacob Henle (1809-1885) of Zurich, Heidelberg & Göttingen. (More? hair)

Henle's Loop

(loop of Henle, ansa nephronis) The term used to describe the tubular (renal tubule) loop portion of the nephron. Named after the anatomist Freidrich Gustav Jacob Henle (1809-1885) of Zurich, Heidelberg & Göttingen. (More? Renal System Development

Hensen's node

(primitive node, primitive knot, Spemann's organizer) Small circular region located at the cranial end of the primitive streak, where gastrulation occurs, and is a controller of this process. Named after Victor Hensen (1835 - 1924) a German embryologist who first described the structure in the rabbit. (More? PMID 11170350 | Rabbit Development)

Hirschsprung's Disease

(intestinal aganglionosis, aganglionic colon, megacolon, congenital aganglionic megacolon) Gastrointestinal tract abnormality due to a lack of enteric nervous system (neural ganglia) in the intestinal tract responsible for gastric motility (peristalsis). In general, its severity is dependent upon the amount of the GIT that lacks intrinsic ganglia, due to an earlier developmental lack of neural crest migration into those segments. Historically, Hirschsprung's disease takes its name from Dr Harald Hirschsprung (1830-1916) a Danish pediatrician (of German extraction). (More? Neural Crest System - Abnormalities | Neural Crest Development | Gastrointestinal Tract Development)

Hofbauer cells

Cells found within placental villi connective tissue. Have a role as macrophages of mesenchymal origin with potentially additional functions (remodeling, vasculogenesis, regulation of stromal water content). HOFBAUER, J., 1903. Uber das konstante Vorkommen bisher unbekannter zelliger Formelemente in der Chorionzotte der menschlichen Placenta. Wien. klin. Wchnsohr., vol. 16. Hofbauer, J., 1903. About the constant presence of previously unknown cellular form elements in the chorionic villus of the human placenta. Vienna. klin. Wchnsohr., Vol. 16.The cells are named after J. Isfred Isidore Hofbauer (1878-1961) an American gynaecologist. (More? Placenta Development)

Howship's lacuna

(resorptive bay) The historic histological name for the shallow bay or cavity lying directly under an osteoclast located at the site of bone remodeling. This microscopic extracellular matrix space represents the site of bone matrix resorption by the osteoclast. Named after John Howship (1781–1841) a British anatomist who identified this region as "bone pits" or "cavities" in a 1820 publication on normal and abnormal bone anatomy. He was a surgeon at St. George's and Charing Cross hospitals in London. (More? Musculoskeletal System - Bone Development)

Hunter's ligament

(ligamentum teres, ligamentum teres uteri) The round ligament of uterus which maintains the ventral uterine position.

Huxley's layer

(cell layer lying inside Henle's layer hair follicle root-sheath) Named after Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 - 1895) an English anatomist and naturalist.

Island of Reil

(insular cortex, insula, insulary cortex or insular lobe) A neural structure describing the brain hemispheres. Named after Johann Christian Reil (1759 – 1813) a German anatomist who first described this region, along with descriptions of the cranial and spinal nerves and plexi. (More? Fig 178, Fig 179 | neural)

Islet of Langerhans

(pancreatic islet) The endocrine tissue of the pancreas. Named after Paul Langerhans (1847 - 1888) a German (Freiburg) anatomist and pathologist. He also identified the Langerhans cells (dendritic cells) located in the skin epidermis. (More? pancreas)

Jacobson's organ

(organ of Jacobson, vomeronasal organ, VNO) A neural structure forming part of olfactory (smell) system that functions in the detection of pheromones. First described by Ruysch (1703) and named after Ludwig Lewin Jacobson (1783 – 1843) a Danish surgeon who identified it in 1813. (More? smell | Historic textbook | Image - 28mm human embryo)

Kerckring valves

(plicae circulares) Small intestine transverse folds, named after Theodor Kerckring (1638 – 1693) a Dutch anatomist. (More? small intestine)

Kerckring ossicle

(Kerckring centre) A skull bone development term describing an ossification centre in the occipital bone occurring in the posterior margin of the foramen magnum about week 14 (GA week 16). Named after Theodor Kerckring (1638 – 1693) a Dutch anatomist. (More? skull | 21mm Skull Development)

Kolliker's organ

(Kollicker's organ, greater epithelial ridge) A developing cochlear structure consisting of columnar-shaped supporting cells filling the inner sulcus and lying directly under the tectorial membrane. This transient organ regresses and generates the space of the inner sulcus. Named after Rudolph Albert von Kolliker (1817-1905). (More? inner ear | hearing)

Kupffer cell

(macrophage) Liver stellate macrophage cells located in sinusoidal space. Named after Karl Wilhelm von Kupffer (1829 - 1902 ) a German anatomist. (More? liver | Liver Histology)

Langerhans cell

(dendritic cells) These are immune cells located within the epidermis of the skin. Named after Paul Langerhans (1847 - 1888) a German (Freiburg) anatomist and pathologist. He also identified the islets of Langerhans, endocrine cells within the pancreas. (More? integumentary | immune))

Lee-Boot Effect

Reproductive change in female mice housed together (in groups) results in a synchronization of their estrus cycles. In addition, the extended absence of male pheromones leads to a state of anestrus (lack of a normal estrus cycle). (More? Mouse Estrous Cycle)

Leydig cell

(interstitial cell) Male gonad (testis) cell which secrete the androgen testosterone, beginning in the fetus. These cells are named after Franz von Leydig (1821 - 1908) a German scientist who histologically described these cells in his detailed account of the male sex organs, Zur Anatomie der männlichen Geschlechtsorgane und Analdrüsen der Säugetiere (On the anatomy of the male sexual organs and anal glands of the mammals) (1850) Zeitschr. f. wiss. Zoologie.

(More? testis | Male | genital | Lecture - Genital Development)

Luschka ducts

(accessory bile duct) Histology term describes the gall bladder and liver accessory bile duct, also called the duct of Luschka

(More? gall bladder)

Magendie's foramen

(median aperture) Space that drains the cerebrospinal fluid from the 4th ventricle into the cisterna magna. Named for François Magendie (1783 - 1855) a French physiologist. (More? Image - Cerebellum, Pons and Fourth Ventricle)


(extra-embryonic coelomic fluid and membranes) Magma reticule or magma reticulare refers to all material forming the early extra embryonic coelom (chorionic sac) described as "substance is gelatinous, with, delicate fibers; at other times it is mixed with granules; and, in extreme cases, it forms quite a solid body." The structure and appearance was thought to be an indicator of normal or abnormal development. (More? Mall FP. The human magma reticule in normal and in pathological development. (1916) Contrib. Embryol., Carnegie Inst. Wash. Publ. 224, 4:5-26.)

magma reticulare

(extra-embryonic coelomic fluid and membranes) Magma reticule or magma reticulare refers to all material forming the early extra embryonic coelom (chorionic sac) described as "substance is gelatinous, with, delicate fibers; at other times it is mixed with granules; and, in extreme cases, it forms quite a solid body." The structure and appearance was thought to be an indicator of normal or abnormal development. (More? Mall FP. The human magma reticule in normal and in pathological development. (1916) Contrib. Embryol., Carnegie Inst. Wash. Publ. 224, 4:5-26.)

Mall formula

Formula used to calculate the age in days of a human embryo based upon the square root of its length. Named after Franklin Mall (1862-1917) an American embryologist. {More? Franklin Mall | 1918 Mall paper)

Mall ridges

(pulmonary ridges) An embryological term used for the pair of ridges overlying the common cardinal veins and visible as bulges from the lateral body wall into the embryonic celom. This feature identifies the region where the pleuropericardial folds will develop. Named after Franklin Mall (1862-1917) an American embryologist.

Marcello Malpighi
Marcello Malpighi (1628 – 1694)

Malpighian bodies of the spleen

(Malpighian bodies, spleen white pulp, splenic lymphoid nodules) A spleen lymphoid region, organized as lymphoid sheaths with both T-cell and B-cell compartments, around the branching arterial vessels (resembles lymph node structure). Named after Marcello Malpighi (1628 – 1694) an Italian biologist and physician. (More? spleen

Malpighian corpuscle

(renal corpuscle) The initial component of the nephron (glomerulus and Bowman's capsule) in the kidneys. Named after Marcello Malpighi (1628 – 1694) an Italian biologist and physician. (More? renal)

Marquette method

(MM) A natural family planning technique used as a method of avoiding pregnancy, named after Marquette University. Couples track their fertility by self-observation of cervical mucus, by use of an electronic monitor that measures urinary levels of estrone-3-glucuronide and luteinizing hormone, and by use of basal body temperature. (More? menstrual cycle | PMID 18997569)

Meckel's cartilage

A temporary cartilage located in the first pharyngeal arch (mandibular component) that forms the template for formation of the mandible and middle ear bones. Named after Johann Friedrich Meckel, the Younger a German anatomist (1781 - 1833). (More? Johann Meckel | head | skull)

Meckel's diverticulum

(omphalomesenteric duct malformation) Gastrointestinal tract developmental abnormality due to persistence of the early vitelline duct region. Named after Johann Friedrich Meckel (1781 - 1833) the Younger, a German anatomist. (More? Johann Meckel | gastrointestinal abnormalities | gastrointestinal tract | omphalomesenteric duct malformations

Meissner's plexus

(submucosal plexus) Part of the enteric nervous system lying in the submucosa layer of the gastrointestinal tract that is associated with mucosal secretion (secretomotor). Embryologically derived from neural crest cells. Named after Georg Meissner (1829-1905) a German histologist, physiologist and anatomist.(More? enteric nervous system | gastrointestinal tract | neural crest)


(abnormal development) A historic term used to describe abnormalities in development that led to an abnormal embryo or fetus. Because of both its associations and connotations this term should today never be used, but may appear in some of the historic content on this site. (More? abnormal development)


(Trisomy 21, Downs syndrome) This term was originally used to describe the facial features associated with Trisomy 21. The term has long ago been discarded as inappropriate and should not be used, but may appear in some of the historic content on this site. Historic example - Penrose LS. The relative effects of paternal and maternal age in Mongolism. J Genet. 1933;27:219–224. (More? Trisomy 21)

Morgagni's glands

(Littré's glands) Mucus secreting glands off the male urethra. (More? genital)

Morgagni hydatids

(Paraovarian cyst) Also called Hydatid of Morgagni, a small fluid-filled cysts commonly attached to the broad ligament of the uterine tubes. (More? genital | uterus | Female)

Moro reflex

(startle reflex) Clinical term describing a primitive reflex, an involuntary response (reflex) that is present at birth and that normally disappears after 3 or 4 months. The reflex has 4 parts: startle; abduction of the upper limbs (spreading out arms); adduction of the upper limbs (unspreading the arms); crying (usually, but may be absent). Preterm birth infants (28 to 33 weeks) have an incomplete form of this reflex and postnatal persistence (beyond 4 or 5 months) occurs in infants with severe neurological defects. (More? Neural Exam - Newborn reflexes - Moro | preterm birth | neural | neonatal | Medline Plus - Moro reflex)

Müllerian duct

(paramesonephric duct) An embryonic paired duct system that will form the epithelial lining of female reproductive organs: utererine tube, uterus, upper vaginal canal. This duct system degenerate in male gonadal development. Named after Johannes Peter Müller (1801-1858) a German scientist. (More? Genital - Female Development | Genital System Development)

Müllerian Inhibiting Substance

(MIS, Anti-Mullerian Hormone, AMH, Mullerian inhibiting hormone, MIH). A sertoli cell secreted glycoprotein (transforming growth factor-beta, TGF-beta superfamily) that regulates gonadal and genital tract development. The main role is to inhibit paramesonephric duct (Müllerian) development in males. Postnatally, after puberty it is also expressed in females by ovarian granulosa cells and has a role in follicle development. (More? Testis Development | OMIM - AMH)

Nitabuch's layer

(Nitabuch membrane, fibrinoid layer) The layer formed at maternal/fetal interface during placentation and is thought to act to prevent excessively deep conceptus implantation. Fibrin-type fibrinoid (maternal blood-clot product) and matrix-type fibrinoid (secreted by invasive extravillous trophoblast cells). Named after Raissa Nitabuch a Russian researcher at the University of Bern who first described (Kenntniss der menschlichen Placenta , Inaugural Dissertation, University Bern, 1887) the fibrinous layer where the placenta detaches from the uterine wall. (More? Placenta Development | PMID 27016781)

omphalomesenteric artery

(vitelline artery) An embryonic artery carrying blood to the yolk sac from the embryo. (More? Cardiovascular System Development | Lecture - Early Vascular Development)

omphalomesenteric duct

(vitelline duct, yolk stalk) A connection through the umbilicus between the yolk sac to the primitive gut that disappears at 8 to 9 weeks of gestation. Many developmental abnormalities are associated with failure of the vitelline duct to resorb, most commonly Meckel's diverticulum. (More? Gastrointestinal Tract Development | Embryonic folding animation | omphalomesenteric duct malformations)

omphalomesenteric vein

(vitelline vein) Embryonic vessels providing the venous pole input into the heart from the yolk sac connected at the umbilicus. (More? Cardiovascular System Development | Lecture - Early Vascular Development)

organ of Corti

(spiral organ) Inner ear structure required for converting mechanical vibration into an electrical signal, named after Alfonso Giacomo Gaspare Corti (1822–1876), an Italian anatomist who discovered it in 1851. (More? Inner Ear | image - organ of Corti https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14910832 PMID 14910832])

organs of Zuckerkandl

(para-aortic body) neural crest derived chromaffin body anatomically located at the bifurcation of the aorta or at the origin of the inferior mesenteric artery. Thought to act as a fetal regulator of blood pressure, secreting catecholamines into the fetal circulation. Named in 1901 by Emil Zuckerkandl (1849-1910) a Hungarian-Austrian anatomist at the University of Vienna. (More? Neural Crest Development)


(plural, ova) Historic publications use this term to describe not just the unfertilised oocyte (that would be accurate), but also the fertilised early developmental products (zygote, blastomeres, morula, blastocyst, and so on).

thumb|150px|link=Neural - Vascular Development|alt=Pacchionian body|Pacchionian body

Pacchionian granulations

(arachnoid villi (arachnoid granulations), ventricular system clusters/projections into the superior sagittal sinus that drain CSF nto the venous system. Antonio Pacchioni (1665-1726) in Dissertatio Epistolaris de Glandulis Conglobatis Durae Meningis Humanae (1705) first described these arachnoid granulations.[2]

Pacchionian body

(arachnoid villi (arachnoid granulations) Arachnoid layer folds that project through the inner layer of dura mater into the superior sagittal sinus and other venous sinuses of the brain. This is a pathway for cerebrospinal fluid to reenter the blood. Antonio Pacchioni (1665-1726) in Dissertatio Epistolaris de Glandulis Conglobatis Durae Meningis Humanae (1705) first described these arachnoid granulations.[2]

periportal space of Mall

(periportal duct, periportal space) Region within the liver between the stroma of the portal canal and the limiting lamina of the outermost hepatocytes in the hepatic lobule. May be an initial space and site of lymph formation in the liver. Named after Franklin Mall (1862-1917) an American embryologist. (More? image | Franklin Mall)

Petit's canal

The canal between the anterior and posterior suspensory ligaments of the lens of the eye. (More? Historic - The Ciliary Body and Iris)

Peyer's patches

(Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue, GALT) Immune structure located in the ileum and appendix (lying between the lamina propria to the submucosa). These immune system structures are the first line of protection against ingested infectious agents. (More? Template:Intestines | Medicine - Immune Lecture)

Pouch of Douglas

(rectouterine pouch or rectovaginal) A female anatomical region describing the portion of the peritoneal cavity lying between the back wall of the uterus and rectum. (More? Coelomic Cavity Development)

Poupart's Ligament

(inguinal ligament, fallopian ligament) - ligament from the pubic tubercle to the anterior superior iliac spine. Named after François Poupart (1616 - 1708) a French anatomist, and surgeon who was first to accurately describe this ligament. (More? Image - Poupart's Ligament and the Crural Passage of Man)

primitive segment

(somite) Historic terminology for the somite pair seen in early embryonic development.

Rathke's fold

The transient lateral components formed during development of the urogenital septum that initially divides the rectum from the urinary bladder. Named after Martin Heinrich Rathke (1793 – 1860) a German embryologist and anatomist.

Rathke's pouch

The transient folding surface ectoderm from roof of the oral cavity that will form the anterior pituitary (hypophysis). In later development the connection with the oral cavity is lost. Named after Martin Heinrich Rathke (1793 – 1860) a German embryologist and anatomist. (More? pituitary)

Reichert's cartilage

The neural crestforming the cartilage band of the second pharyngeal arch. Named after Karl Bogislaus Reichert (1811 – 1883) a German anatomist. (More? middle ear | pharyngeal arch | PMID 16441562)

Reichert's membrane

Early rodent development, a thick multilayered basement membrane between the parietal endoderm cells and the trophoblast cells. This membrane has contentious origins, and has been suggested to begin with the formation of a basement membrane of the mural trophoblast cells, subsequent growth is from primitive endoderm cell depositions. Named after Karl Bogislaus Reichert (1811 – 1883) a German anatomist. (More? Mouse Development | PMID 8651512)

Reissner's membrane

(vestibular membrane, vestibular wall) is a membrane located inside the cochlea separating the scala media from scala vestibuli. Named after Ernst Reissner (1824-1878) a German anatomist. It primarily functions as a diffusion barrier, allowing nutrients to travel from the perilymph to the endolymph of the membranous labyrinth. (More? inner ear | image)

Riedel's lobe

Liver right lobe variation as a tongue-like inferior projection beyond the level of the most inferior costal cartilage on cross-sectional images. (More? liver | PMID: 25621695)

Rouget cell

(pericyte) Historic term named after Rouget, C. for a cell found surrounding small blood vessels, now called a vascular pericyte. (More? blood vessel | PMID 17162534)

Santorini's duct

(accessory pancreatic duct, APD) A pancreatic duct which may be present as an anatomical variation due to the embryological origin of the pancreas from two pancreatic buds (dorsal and ventral). Named after Giovanni Domenico Santorini (1681 - 1737) an Italian anatomist who dissecting and delineating many anatomical features. Note the main pancreatic duct (MPD) from the dorsal bud, present in the body and tail of the pancreas (also called Wirsung's duct). (More? Gastrointestinal Tract Development | Lecture - Gastrointestinal Development | Endocrine - Pancreas Development)

Schmidt-Lanterman cleft

(medullary segments) A histological term describing the small amounts of Schwann cell cytoplasm located within the myelin sheath surrounding a myelinated neuronal axon. These spaces form channels for nutrient and other substances to be exchanged. (More? Neural System Development)

Seessel's pouch

In early head development, an endodermal bud underlying the nasofrontal bud will form Sessel's pouch which later degenerates. In the chick embryo, this structure patterns first the nasal septum and later the nasal capsule, the ethmoid bone, and the upper beak. (More? chicken)

Enrico Sertoli
Enrico Sertoli (1842 - 1910)

Sertoli cell

The supporting cells in the testes (male gonad) that induce primordial germ cells to commit to sperm development. Support is nutritional and mechanical, as well as forming a blood-testis barrier. In development these cells secrete anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), which causes the Mullerian duct (paramesonephric duct) to regress, and help to induce other somatic cells to differentiate into Leydig cells. The cells are named after Enrico Sertoli (1842 - 1910), and Italian physiologist and histologist. His historic writings rat testis have recently been translated from the original Italian.PMID 29961830 (More? sertoli cell | testis | genital | Lecture - Genital Development)

===Skene's gland===(para-urethral gland, lesser vestibular glands) Female genital glands located on the anterior wall of the vagina and around the lower end of the urethra. Named in 1880 after Alexander Johnston Chalmers Skene (1838-1900) an American gynaecologist. (More? Female Genital)

Stenson's duct

(parotid duct) Historic term for the major duct of the parotid gland that allows salivary gland secretions to empty into the oral cavity. Named after Niels Stensen (1638 - 1686) a Danish anatomist, natural scientist, and theologist. (More? Salivary Gland Development)

Stilling's canal

(Cloquet's canal, canal of Cloquet, hyaloid canal) A developmental eye feature now called the hyaloid canal. The hyaloid canal in the embryo contains the hyaloid artery that supplies blood to the developing lens. Named after Benedict Stilling (1810-1879) a German anatomist and Jules G. Cloquet (1790-1883) a French anatomist. (More? Sensory - Vision Development)

space of Nuel

Within the cochlea, an organ of Corti space between the outer pillar cells and the phalangeal and hair cells. Named after Jean-Pierre Nuel (1847-1920) a Belgian ophthalmologist. (More? Inner Ear Development)

Tourneux fold

The transient median component formed during development of the urogenital septum that initially divides the rectum from the urinary bladder. (see also Rathke's Fold)

Volkmann’s canal

Bone Histology bone term for the oblique vascular channel in compact bone that link parallel Haversian canals and also with the inner and outer periosteum surfaces of the bone. These canals are not surrounded by concentric lamellae as found with the Haversian canals. Named after Alfred Wilhelm Volkmann (1800 - 1877) a German physiologist and anatomist. (More? Bone Histology | Bone Development)

von Ebner's fissure

Somite division furrow that divides each somite into a cranial and caudal half. The caudal half has a dense cellular packing compared to the crainial half. This region is located at the adult intervertebral boundary. Named after von Ebner (1842 - 1925), an Austrian anatomist and histologist who identified this region in 1888. (More? Axial Skeleton Development)

von Ebner's glands

Salivary glands (Ebner's glands) located at the base of the circumvallate papillae on the posterior dorsal surface of the tongue. (More? Tongue Development)

Waldeyer's ring

Historical name for the anatomical "ring" of lymphoid tissue in the pharynx (adenoids, tubal tonsils, palatine tonsils, lingual tonsils). Named after Heinrich Wilhelm Gottfried von Waldeyer-Hartz (1836 - 1921) a German anatomist.

Waldeyer's glands

Sweat glands in the attached edge of the eyelid, usually prominent in the lower lid margin.

Wharton's jelly

The placental cord (umbilical cord) gelatinous connective tissue composed of myofibroblast-like stromal cells, collagen fibers, and proteoglycans. Increases in volume (myxomatous, connective tissue embedded in mucus) at parturition (birth) to assist closure of placental blood vessels. Matrix cells from Wharton's jelly have recently been identified as a potential source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), also called mesenchymal stromal cell. This placental cord substance is named after Thomas Wharton (1614-1673) an English physician and anatomist who first described this placental tissue. (More? Placenta Development | Placenta - Histology | Stem Cells)

Wharton’s duct

(submandibular duct) main duct from the submandibular gland that runs forward along the lingual nerve in the sublingual space and opens in the sublingual caruncle. Named after Thomas Wharton (1614–1673) an English anatomist also known for umbilical cord Wharton’s jelly. (More? Salivary Gland Development)

Whitten Effect

Reproductive change in female mice either singly or housed together (in groups) can be induced into estrus by exposure to male mouse urine or their dirty bedding. (More? Mouse Development | Mouse Estrous Cycle)

Wirsung's duct

(main pancreatic duct, MPD) An anatomical gastrointestinal duct located present in the body and tail of the adult pancreas connecting it to the duodenum. Embryonically, the duct initially forms within the dorsal pancreatic bud. Named after Johann Georg Wirsung (1589 - 1643) a German physician who worked as a prosector in Padua and discovered the duct in a cadaver in 1642. Note an accessory pancreatic duct (APD, or Santorini's duct) may be present as an anatomical variation due to the embryological origin of the pancreas from two pancreatic buds (dorsal and ventral). (More? gastrointestinal | pancreas)

Wolffian body

Historic name for the developing combined renal (mesonephros) and genital (paramesonephrotic blastema) structures. This term is no longer used in describing development. Named after Caspar Friedrich Wolff (1733-1794), a German scientist and early embryology researcher and is said to have established the doctrine of germ layers. (More? renal | genital)

Wolffian duct

(mesonephric duct, preferred terminology), A developmental duct that runs from the mesonephros to cloaca. The duct in male differentiates to form the ductus deferens and in female the same structure regresses. Historically named after Caspar Friedrich Wolff (1733-1794), a German scientist and early embryology researcher and is said to have established the doctrine of germ layers. (More? Male | genital | Lecture - Genital Development )

Zonule of Zinn

(Lockwood's ligament) Suspensory ligament if the eye. (More? vision)

Terminologia Anatomica Categories

  • A01: General anatomy (anatomia generalis)
  • A02: Bones (ossa)
  • A03: Joints (juncturae)
  • A04: Muscles (musculi)
  • A05: Alimentary system (systema digestorium)
  • A06: Respiratory system (systema respiratorium)
  • A07: Thoracic cavity (cavitas thoracis)
  • A08: Urinary system (systema urinarium)
  • A09: Genital systems (systemata genitalia)
  • A10: Abdominopelvic cavity (cavitas abdominis et pelvis)
  • A11: Endocrine glands (glandulae endocrinae)
  • A12: Cardiovascular system (systema cardiovasculare)
  • A13: Lymphoid system (systema lymphoideum)
  • A14: Nervous system (systema nervosum)
  • A15: Sense organs (organa sensuum)
  • A16: The integument (integumentum commune)


  1. Allen WE. (2009). Terminologia anatomica: international anatomical terminology and Terminologia Histologica: International Terms for Human Cytology and Histology. J. Anat. , , . PMID: 19486203 DOI.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brunori A, Vagnozzi R & Giuffrè R. (1993). Antonio Pacchioni (1665-1726): early studies of the dura mater. J. Neurosurg. , 78, 515-8. PMID: 8442786 DOI.

His, W. Die anatomische Nomenclatur. Nomina anatomica, Verzeichniss der von der anatomischen Gesellschaft auf ihrer IX. Versammlung in Basel angenommenen Namen (1895) Archiv für Anatomie und Physiologie. Anatomische Abth., Suppl. - Bd., 1895. Internet Archive copy

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  • Who Named It? - A comprehensive dictionary of medical eponyms. The stories of diseases, conditions , medical syndromes and the people whose names they carry.

Glossary Comments

Use this page to access brief definitions of specific embryology terms. Additional information can be accessed from links listed at the end of each definition. Glossary from the UNSW Embryology program compiled and written by Dr Mark Hill. Reference material used in preparing this glossary list includes: texts listed on page 1 "Reading" of each notes section, Department of Anatomy Publications, WWW resources from NCBI, NIH, OMIM, NHMRC (Australia), AMA (USA), Office of Rare Diseases (USA), PubMed Medline Dictionaries, MSDS, Merck Manual home edn. and WHO ART terminology (2009).

These notes are for Educational Purposes Only Please email Dr Mark Hill if you wish to make a comment about this current project.

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, April 22) Embryology Embryology Historic Terminology. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Embryology_Historic_Terminology

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