Animal Development

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Chick E12.jpg



A list of different animal embryos that have been used in embryology studies that can be found within the Embryology program.

The links are to more detailed pages with overviews of embryological development and the key experimental findings. There are also links to external resources and labs that use these models. Use the title below to open pages with more about information about that animals embryo development and additional pages that relate to that species. There is also an embryology page for K12 students with a table comparing Animal Development Times.

In 2009, science embryology students prepared group projects on some selected animal models of development. Project 1 - Rabbit | Project 2 - Fly | Project 3 - Zebrafish | Group Project 4 - Mouse | Project 5 - Frog | Students Page

Animal Development: Axolotl | Bat | Cat | Chicken | Cow | Dog | Dolphin | Echidna | Fly | Frog | Grasshopper | Guinea Pig | Hamster | Kangaroo | Koala | Lizard | Medaka | Mouse | Pig | Platypus | Rabbit | Rat | Sea Squirt | Sea Urchin | Sheep | Worm | Zebrafish | Life Cycles | Development Timetable | K12
Historic Animals: 1897 Pig | 1900 Chicken | 1901 Lungfish | 1904 Sand Lizard | 1905 Rabbit | 19066 Deer | 1907 Tarsiers | 1908 Human | 1909 Northern Lapwing | 1909 South American and African Lungfish | 1910 Salamander | Embryology History | Historic Disclaimer

Animal Development Times

The table below lists the approximate development time for a large number of different animals, ranging from the opossum at 12 days to the elephant at 660 days.

African elephant cow and calf.jpg


Bat Development - Not a typical embryo used in developmental studies, but first alphabetically and an alternative mammalian model. A recent paper has detailed the short-tailed fruit bat (Carollia perspicillata) embryonic stages of development.

Bat icon.jpg


Bovine Development - Bovine, not a typical embryological model, but extensively studied due to commercial value and more recently for breeding using IVF techniques. Development takes about 280 days.



Chicken Links: Introduction | Chicken stages | Hamburger Hamilton Stages | Witschi Stages | History of the Chick (1883) | Chicken Embryo Development Plates (1900) | Chick Early Embryology (1920) | Category:Chicken
  • The chicken embryo develops and hatches in 20-21 days and historically these were one of the first embryos to be studied. Cutting a window in the egg shell allows direct observation of the embryo. The Hamburger & Hamilton chicken development staging allowed researchers to develop this model as a key embryological tool.
  • Key research involved the transplanting of quail cells into chick embryos, to later identify their contribution to different embryonic structures, particularly for somite, neural tube and neural crest development.
Chick icon.jpg


Dog Development - Not a typical embryo used in developmental studies, much work is based on veterinary and breeders.


Echidna Development - Not a typical embryo used in developmental studies, much work is still required to determine this unique monotreme embryonic stages of development.


Fly Development - The fruitfly (drosophila) was and is the traditional geneticist's tool. It has been transformed to an magnificent embryologist's tool, with developmental mechanisms being uncovered in this system combined with homolgy gene searches in other species. The fly genome was one of the first to be been completely sequenced. In early development nurse cells sacrifice their cytoplasmic contents to allow egg growth and early pattern formation is through the localization of maternal messenger RNAs (mRNAs).



Frog Links: Frog Development | 2009 Student Project | Hans Spemann | 1921 Early Frog Development | 1951 Rana pipiens Development | Rana pipiens Images | Frog Glossary | John Gurdon | Category:Frog | Animal Development
  • The frog was used by many of the early embryology investigators and currently there are many different molecular mechanisms concerning development of the frog.
  • The eggs develop independently, in relative synchrony and are relatively see-through making staging and observation fairly easy.
  • The frog was a key model for the study of the process of gastrulation.



Grasshopper Development - The grasshopper has been used as a model in studies of neural development.

Grasshopper- female.jpg

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig Development - The guinea pig has been used as a model animal in many animal model studies; developmental, dietary, tetragenic, including the effects of maternal temperature on development.

Guineapig icon.jpg


Kangaroo Development - The tammar wallaby genome has been recently sequenced.

Red-necked wallaby.jpg


Lizard Development - Lizards are members of the reptile class of air-breathing, cold-blooded (ectothermic) vertebrates with skin covered in scales.

Lizard embryo 03.jpg


Mouse Links: Introduction | Mouse Stages | Mouse Timeline | Mouse Timeline Detailed | Mouse Estrous Cycle | Mouse Knockout | Movie - Cephalic Plexus | ANAT2341 Project (2009) | Category:Mouse
  • The mouse has always been a good embryological model, easy to generate (litters 8-20) and quick (21d).
  • Mouse embryology really expanded when molecular biologists used mice for gene knockouts.


Pig Links: Introduction | Estrous Cycle | Pig Embryo Development Plates (1897) | Estrous and Implantation (1921) | Limb Arteries (1922) | Category:Pig
Sow and piglet.jpg


Platypus Development - Not a typical embryo used in developmental studies and we still no very little about the embryonic stages of this unique monotreme development. The platypus also has an amazing sex chromosome organisation.



Rabbit Development - The rabbit along with human, are the few species which show birth defects with thalidomide (teratogenic effects) which were not detected with prior testing on other species.



Rat Development - The rat is available as inbred, outbred and mutant strains. They have been generally beaten as a model by their mice brethren, as the molecular tools that became available (stem cells, knockout genes, etc). Rat embryos do have the advantage of being much larger than mouse embryos and easy to breed. Rat development is also generally 1 day behind from mouse.



Salmon Development - sockeye and chinook.


Worm Development - Early embryological studies of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C.Elegans, so called because of its "elegant" curving movement) characterized the fate of each and every cell in the worm through all stages of development. This worm has recently had its entire genome sequenced.

C elegans.jpg



Zebrafish Development - Zebrafish are seen as the latest and greatest "model' for embryological development studies. They can be easily genetically altered and develop as practically "see through" embryos, all internal development can be clearly observed from the outside in the living embryo.

Medaka Fish

Medaka - The Japanese rice fish (Oryzias latipes) is a member of the killifish family and used in several developmental studies.


Other Resources

  • Carnegie Stage Comparison - the human embryonic period proper is divided into 23 Carnegie stages. Criteria beyond morphological features include age in days, number of somites present, and embryonic length. This staging can be applied to all vertebrates, and most vertebrate embryos develop during the embryonic period in much the same way, we can directly compare the timing of development for different species.
  • Embryo Staging Systems - stages are based on the external and/or internal morphological development of the vertebrate embryo, and are not directly dependent on either age or size.

External Links

External Links Notice - The dynamic nature of the internet may mean that some of these listed links may no longer function. If the link no longer works search the web with the link text or name.

  • National Research Council (US) Committee for the Update of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. 8th edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. Bookshelf link

Glossary Links

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2014) Embryology Animal Development. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from

What Links Here?
Dr Mark Hill 2014, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G
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