Dutch anatomists have published an amazing 3D atlas of the human embryo. Their website offers 14 interactive three-dimensional models of human embryology and a database of 34 embryos spanning the first two months of human development. About 15,000 histological sections were analyzed by students under expert supervision, and about 150 organs and structures were identified and digitally labelled in each section. The labelled structures were then spatially reconstructed in such a way that the relation between the reconstruction and the original images was preserved.
The development of the human body is difficult to understand, they write in an article in Science about the project. “Textbooks on human development are often based on the works of early embryologists, some published more than 100 years ago. Because of the limited availability of human embryonic specimens, it is difficult or impossible to independently verify the information carried in these textbooks, or even to assess whether this information is derived from studies on human or animal models.”
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