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Frank R. Lillie

Frank Rattray Lillie (1870 – 1947) was an American zoologist and embryologist. Lillie was appointed an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago in 1900, Chairman of the Department of Zoology in 1910, and later Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences in 1931. His key textbook The Development of the Chick - An Introduction to Embryology was first published in 1908, 2nd edition in 1919 and 3rd edition in 1952.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Lillie moved to the United States in 1891 to study for a summer at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, eventually rising to become its director in 1908. His efforts developed the MBL into a full-time institution.

Links: Frank Lillie | chicken | MBL


Lillie FR. The development of the chick. (1919) Henry Holt And Company New York, New York.

Lillie FR. and Moore CR. A Laboratory Outline of Embryology. (1923) The Univiversity of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois.

Review - Lillie’s Development of the Chicken - an Introduction to Embryology 3rd Edn. (1952)  
Lillie’s Development of the Chicken Introduction to Embryology. 3rd Edition, revised by Howarp L. Hamilton. (Pp. 574; 283 figs.; 14 plates; $8.50.) New York: H. Holt & Co. 1952.

The writing of the present edition was begun in 1945 at the request of Dr Frank R. Lillie himself with Dr B. H. Willier acting as advisory editor. It was Dr Lillie’s hope that he might live to see the new edition in print but this was not to be. The general outline of previous editions has been preserved. Part 1, which consists of six chapters, is devoted to an account of the early embryology up to and including the 3rd day. The account of the development of the embryo is given on a general basis and in addition a detailed account is given of specially selected stages.

Part 2 of the book consists of nine chapters and is an account of the development of the embryo from the 4th day to hatching; the various systems and external form are described as separate entities. A few chapters, such as the one dealing with the external form of the embryo and the embryonic membranes, and the one describing the body cavities, mesenteries and septum transversum, have remained relatively unchanged. Chapter 4, ‘From laying to the formation of the first somite’, chapter 8; ‘The nervous system’, and chapter 13, ‘The urogenital system’, are more or less completely rewritten. A new chapter, the fifteenth, describing the development of the integument, has been added. The other chapters have been extensively revised.

The new accounts are based on recent literature, but the author has tried to follow Dr Lillie’s example of going to the chick itself to check questionable points. To this end some original work is included in the text, but it is to be regretted that the author has not indicated more clearly which parts of the text result from this original work. The only clear indications consist of an opinion on the processes concerned with the formation of endoderm (p. 101) and two footnotes, one dealing with the coelomic cavity (p. 149) and one with the tail bud (p. 176). A further footnote refers to a communication from Rawles on the patency of the ductus arteriosus in the newly-hatched chick (p. 462).

This book is very well written and its format is attractive. The book reaches a happy compromise which makes it a most readable introduction to embryology while yet remaining an invaluable reference work for the research worker.

There is little to criticize in this work which has evidently been prepared with great care, but future editions might be improved by a rearrangement of the bibliography. The references should be listed at the end of the chapter they concern and not in an appendix of 32 pages at the end of the book. Also the magnification of drawings and photographs of early embryos should be given. Figs. 153 and 155 would be improved by being photographs rather than drawings of sagittal sections through an embryo. In fig. 222 the drawings are too small and too faint.

Apart from these minor faults the present work is a credit to the author and had Dr Lillie lived he would have been proud to have his name associated with it. It will continue to perpetuate Dr Lillie’s influence on the development of embryology.

W. J. Hamilton



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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, June 14) Embryology Frank R. Lillie.jpg. Retrieved from

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current09:42, 23 July 2019Thumbnail for version as of 09:42, 23 July 2019605 × 1,000 (74 KB)Z8600021 (talk | contribs)reduce image size
09:41, 23 July 2019Thumbnail for version as of 09:41, 23 July 20192,042 × 3,373 (772 KB)Z8600021 (talk | contribs)Frank R. Lillie Frank Rattray Lillie (June 27, 1870 – November 5, 1947) was an American zoologist and an early pioneer of the study of embryology. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Lillie moved to the United States in 1891 to study for a summer at t...