(Officially titled "Vertebrate Embryology" because this department once also taught a separate course
titled "Invertebrate Embryology", which is no longer given, but may be.)

Until this year Embryology was numbered Biology 104

(For at least 50 years)

This number has now been changed to Biology 441

(Because of a nation-wide fad among administrators for renumbering courses, that finally reached the South)




Biology 441 Vertebrate Embryology Spring 2007

Albert Harris and Andrius Masedunskas


Textbook: A Photographic Atlas of Developmental Biology,  Shirley J. Wright

Lectures Mon-Wed-Fri 9-9:50, 107 Wilson Hall     

Albert Harris: akharris@bio.unc.edu
Office 103 Wilson Hall; phone 966-1230
Office Hours: MWF 10-12 or by prior arrangement   
Home phone 493-1572 (Durham)

Andrius Masedunskas: andrius@email.unc.edu

Regarding other textbooks:

Several excellent textbooks titled "Developmental Biology" have been used as official textbooks for this course in previous years, including the books by Scott Gilbert and Bruce Carlson. However, because these books' prices became so high (> $140.00) and because new editions were re-published so frequently, with topics deliberately shifted around to make it harder to use combinations of both old and new editions, it seemed to me that the publishers were gouging students. Depending on your interest in this subject, you may want to buy new or used editions of Gilbert or Carlson's books, and hang on to them for reference use in graduate or medical school. Meanwhile, my wife Elizabeth (a Duke plant molecular biologist) and I are producing free web pages, with original drawings, animations, time-lapse movies and color slides to take the place of the over-priced and progressively more trendy, costly, and inaccurate commercial textbooks.

We are indebted to Mrs. Susan Whitfield, the Biology Dept. Artist Photographer, to Hinár Polczer, the Biology computer technician, and to Michael Salerno, for his help with converting videos to digital format. I also thank my former research collaborators Professor Calhoun Bond (Greensboro College) for movies of sponge cells, Professor Barbara Danowski (Union College) for movies of tissue culture cells responding to microtubule poisons and tumor promoters, Dr. David Stopak for movies of cells distorting collagen, soon-to-be Dr. Andrew Wheeler for the JAVA Cellular Automaton computer program, Dr. Graham Dunn (King's College, London) for movies of retrograde surface transport, and Dr. William S. Ramsey (Patent Attorney, in D.C.) for the movie of the human leucocyte (which incidentally was cultured from either my own blood or his!).

On the other hand, the UNC central administration deserves nobody's thanks for much of anything. Their only interests are winning football games, wasteful building renovations, and making under-the-table financial deals with certain computer companies, all contrary to the best interests of students and professors. This Web site and all the movies were made with Apple computers, and a total of thousands of dollars of equipment bought by me, personally.


1) Wed. Jan 10Major events of animal developmentweb page
2) Fri. Jan. 12Compare embryology of sea urchin, frog, bird & mammal; similarities & differencesdiagram
Mon. Jan 15 Holiday in honor of Rev Martin Luther King jr.  
3) Wed. Jan. 17 Rule-generated pattern formationweb page
  handout on cellular automata 
4) Fri. Jan. 19Cell differentiation  
5) Mon. Jan. 22Fertilizationweb page
6) Wed. Jan. 24Organs that form from ectodermweb page
7) Fri. Jan. 26Organs that form from neural crest ectodermcontinuation of same web page
8) Mon. Jan. 29Organs that form from somatic ectodermcontinuation of same web page
9) Wed. Jan. 31 Organs that form from mesoderm web page
10) Fri. Feb. 2 Mesoderm, continuedcontinuation of same web page
11) Mon. Feb. 5First Examreview questions
12) Wed. Feb. 7Development of male and female sex ducts, kidneys, coelom and heartweb page
13) Fri. Feb. 9Development of Heart and Circulatory System, primordial cells web page
14) Mon. Feb. 12 Development of endodermal organs, pharyngeal pouches, thyroid, lungs, etc. cloaca 
15) Wed. Feb. 14Skeletal development, cartilage and its replacement by bone 
16) Fri. Feb. 16Regulative development of embryos, as compared with "mosaic" developmentweb page
17) Mon. Feb. 19Key concepts and methods in the history or embryology, and those used today 
18) Wed. Feb. 21 Curvature times stress equals pressure difference.
Stress is a second order tensor.
web page
19) Fri. Feb. 23 "Reaction-diffusion systems" & other mechanisms to generate spatial patternsweb page
20) Mon. Feb. 26 Symmetry concepts that help explain embryological phenomenasee web page for Feb. 21
21) Wed. Feb. 28 Limb bud development (arms and legs and wings and fins)web page
22) Fri. March 2 Birth defects and other medical aspects of animal embryology 
23) Mon. March 5 Second Examreview questions
24) Wed. March 7Developmental mechanismsweb page
25) Fri. March 9 Developmental mechanisms, continued 
 Spring Vacation March 12, 14, 16 
26) Mon. March 19Cellular slime molds as a useful model for studying mechanisms of developmentweb page
27) Wed. March 21Cancer considered as resulting from misfunctioning embryological mechanismsweb page
28) Fri. March 23Embryonic development of the immune system & its relation to autoimmune diseaseweb page
29) Mon. March 26 above topics continued 
30) Wed. March 28 Nervous system; neural connections from the eye to the brainweb page
31) Fri. March 30above topics continued 
32) Mon. April 2 above topics continued 
33) Wed. April 4above topics continued 
Fri. April 6Good Friday Holiday 
34) Mon. April 9Extraembryonic membranesweb page
35) Wed. April 11 Sex determinationweb page
36) Fri. April 13Third Examreview questions
37) Mon. April 16Regeneration and asexual buddingweb page
38) Wed. April 18 Metamorphosisweb page
39) Fri. April 20Genetic screens of embryonic lethal genes in flies
Hox gene expression patterns
web page
40) Mon. April 23Aging may be programmed self-destruction, not just cumulative wearweb page
41) Wed. April 25"Evo-Devo": Relations between embryonic development and evolutionweb page
42) Fri. April 27Human Birth defects and Future research topics 
 FINAL EXAMINATION Friday May Fourth 8:00 AM !review questions
 review questions on curvature, stress, and symmetry 
 answers to curvature etc. review questions