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Fig. 172. Dorsal half of heart showing chambers and septa

Semi-diagrammatic Modified from Born

The further changes are largely concerned with the separation of the heart into right and left sides, and with the development of the valves. The atria become separated by the further growth on the cephalic side, of the ridge which has already been mentioned and which is known as the septum superius (Figs. 171 and 172). This septum grows across the cavity of the atria until it almost reaches the atrio-ventricular canal, forming the septum atriorum. A portion of the septum then breaks away, leaving the two atria still in communication. This secondary opening is the foramen ovale which persists throughout foetal life, but closes soon after birth. The atrio-ventricular canal also becomes divided into two passages by a ridge from the dorsal wall and one from the ventral wall uniting with each other and finally with the septum atriorum (Fig. 172). Thus the two atria would be completely separated if it were not for the foramen ovale.

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