Talk:Embryology Historic Terminology

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2021, August 4) Embryology Embryology Historic Terminology. Retrieved from


Interstitial Cells of Leydig

Leydig described the interstitial 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.:

«The comparative studies of the testis resulted in the discovery of cells surrounding the seminiferous tubules, vessels, and nerves. These special cells are present in small numbers where they follow the course of the blood vessels, but increase in mass considerably when surrounding seminiferous tubules. These cells are lipoid in character; they can be colourless or can be stained yellowish, and they have light vesicular nuclei.»


Historical perspective on developmental concepts and terminology

Am J Med Genet A. 2013 Nov;161A(11):2711-25. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.36244. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

Opitz JM1, Neri G. Author information


In their ontogeny and phylogeny all living beings are historical entities. The revolution in biology of the 18th and 19th centuries that did away with the scala naturae according to which we humans, the acme of creation, "made a little lower than the angels," also led to the gradual realization that a humble one-celled protist ("protoctist"), such as Entamoeba histolytica of ill repute [Margulis and Chapman, ] has the same 4-billion-year phylogeny as that of Homo sapiens, vivid testimony to common ancestry and the relatedness of all living beings on earth. The group of medical geneticists who assembled at the NIH, Bethesda, MD this January to address terms pertaining to human ontogeny, did so in the long tradition of Sydenham, Linnaeus, Meckel, Geoffroy St-Hilaire père et fils, Wilhelm His and so many others before who had over the previous two centuries wrestled as earnestly as they could with concepts of "classification" and nomenclature of developmental anomalies. The prior massive need for classification per se in medical morphology has diminished over the years in favor of ever more sophisticated understanding of pathogenesis and cause through experimental biology and genetics; however, in the winter of 2013 it was still found prudent to respect terminological precedent on general terms while recognizing recent advances in developmental pathology requiring clarification and definition of special terms. Efforts along similar lines instigated by the German Society of Anatomists at their first meeting in Leipzig in 1887 culminated, after intense years of work by hundreds of experts and consultants under the goad of Wilhelm His, in the Basel Nomina Anatomica [BNA, His (1895)]. His, himself, stated prefatorily that the BNA had no legislative weight, only an evanescent consensus of many to be amended in the future as needed and indicated. Without hubris, no one before or after will do the same. The more substantial the consensus the more permanent the structure. After some 120 years the BNA is alive and flourishing. Now retitled Terminologia Anatomica, it has been amended and added to many times, is still in Latin but now with synonyms in English, the new lingua franca of science, for every anatomical, histological and embryological term. May our successors be equally effective.

© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. KEYWORDS: Basel Nomina Anatomica, ontogeny/development, pathogenesis, phylogeny/evolution, terminology

PMID 24123982


Anatomical terminology and nomenclature: past, present and highlights

Surg Radiol Anat. 2008 Aug;30(6):459-66. doi: 10.1007/s00276-008-0357-y. Epub 2008 May 17.

Kachlik D1, Baca V, Bozdechova I, Cech P, Musil V. Author information

Abstract The anatomical terminology is a base for medical communication. It is elaborated into a nomenclature in Latin. Its history goes back to 1895, when the first Latin anatomical nomenclature was published as Basiliensia Nomina Anatomica. It was followed by seven revisions (Jenaiensia Nomina Anatomica 1935, Parisiensia Nomina Anatomica 1955, Nomina Anatomica 2nd to 6th edition 1960-1989). The last revision, Terminologia Anatomica, (TA) created by the Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology and approved by the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists, was published in 1998. Apart from the official Latin anatomical terminology, it includes a list of recommended English equivalents. In this article, major changes and pitfalls of the nomenclature are discussed, as well as the clinical anatomy terms. The last revision (TA) is highly recommended to the attention of not only teachers, students and researchers, but also to clinicians, doctors, translators, editors and publishers to be followed in their activities.

PMID 18488135


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 His, Wilhelm, 1831-1904

Historic Person/Term and (Modern) Term

  • ampulla of Vater - (hepatopancreatic ampulla) formed by union of pancreatic and common bile ducts, entering the duodenum at the major duodenal papilla. (More? Liver Histology)
  • Barker Hypothesis - (Fetal Origins Hypothesis) 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 as the Fetal Origins Hypothesis and proposes that in utero influences can lead too permanent changes in embryo/fetus, low birth weight, which predisposes to chronic disease in adult life. (More? Fetal Origins Hypothesis)
  • Barr body - (inactive X chromosome) Name given to a visible cellular feature at the periphery of the nucleus, produced by the inactivation of a single X chromosome in females. Named after Murray Barr (1908 – 1995), a Canadian physician and medical researcher who first identified this cellular structure. (More? PMID 18120749)
  • 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.
  • Call-Exner bodies - A histological 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 thiose of the follicular basal lamina. Named named after Emma Louise Call (1847 - 1937) one of the first American women physician and Sigmund Exner (1846 – 1926) an Austrian physiologist. (More? Oocyte Development | Week 1)
  • canal of Nuck - The female anatomical equivalent of the male processus vaginalis, a transient communicating channel in testes development between tunica vaginalis and peritoneal cavity. Named after Anton Nuck (1650 - 1692), a Dutch anatomist.
  • 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)
  • 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.

  • Down 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 described the syndrome in 1866. (More? Trisomy 21)
  • 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)
  • 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 | Embryo Staging Systems)
  • 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? Endocrine - Thymus Development)
  • 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. (More? Bone 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). (More? Placenta Development)
  • Hunter's ligament - (ligamentum teres, ligamentum teres uteri) The round ligament of uterus which maintains the ventral uterine position.
  • Jacobson's organ - (vomeronasal organ, VNO) A neural structure forming part of olfactory system that functions in the detection of pheromones. Named after Ludwig Lewin Jacobson (1783 – 1843) a Danish surgeon who identified it in 1813. (More? Sensory - Smell 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 Development | Hearing)
  • 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)
  • 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 | PMID18997569)
  • 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? Head Development | Johann Friedrich Meckel)
  • 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 | Neural System Development | Neonatal Development | Medline Plus - Moro reflex)
  • 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)
  • 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? Gastrointestinal Tract)
  • 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)
  • primitive segment - (somite) Historic terminology for the somite pair seen in early embryonic development.
  • 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. (More? Mouse Development | PMID: 8651512)
  • 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 Development)
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Wharton's jelly - 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)
  • 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)