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Development Down Under

Where can you learn about the basics of developmental biology? There are some excellent textbooks on the subject, but the information is often out of date by the time it becomes available, and the primary literature is so vast that it is impossible to read everything. Mark Hill from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia is attempting to address this problem with a website devoted to the subject.

On the homepage, you can watch a human embryo grow before your eyes, and see the results of Hill's "third successful embryology experiment", his son Christopher. The site focuses mainly on human development, but a range of vertebrate and invertebrate animal models are also presented. There is a basic introduction to human development that is really aimed at school children, although some grown-ups might find this useful too.

The more advanced notes include pages on neural development, as well as separate pages discussing neural crest and sense organs. The site is continually updated, and September 2001 saw the introduction of a section on the development of cerebrospinal fluid. The notes are not especially detailed, but there are plenty of external links if you want to find out more. Many of the principles described are illustrated in the 'Movies' section. Neuroscientists will be particularly interested in the time-lapse movies of neural crest cell migration from Paul Kulesa.

It is clear that parts of the site are still under construction, and it is not always easy to find the relevant information. However, it is certainly a brave attempt to bring all of this information together, and we hope that it will continue to develop to provide a valuable resource.


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Wood, H. Development Down Under. Nat Rev Neurosci 2, 680 (2001).

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