Syllabus  Biology 441 Vertebrate Embryology  Albert Harris    Spring 2016

MWF 9:05-9:55 Wilson 107

Office: Room 103 Wilson Hall
Office Hours: 10-12 Monday and Wednesday, or at other times by appointment

web sites: http://www. and

office phone 919-966-1230
home 919-493-1572

Teaching assistants: Becky Bigler and Claire Karasek


Textbook: Human Embryology and Developmental Biology, by Bruce M. Carlson. Any edition is OK.

The Biology 441 lab is NOT required for students taking the lecture course. It is a separate 1-hour course.
Syllabus for the lab [revised February 25]

Lecture notes, videos, review questions, and other material needed for exams will be posted on the web, linked to this syllabus page
(No password is required, and Sakai will not be used.)

exams and grading


1) Mon. Jan 11 Mammal Embryology in Contrast with Sea Urchin Embryology.
See 2016_videos.html for the videos of mammalian and sea urchin early divisions.
lecture notes
2) Wed. Jan 13 Subdivision of Embryos Into Ectoderm, Mesoderm & Endoderm
lecture notes
3) Fri. Jan 15 Embryology of Teleost Fish. Why are zebra-fish good "model organisms?;
lecture notes
Mon. Jan 18 ******* Holiday in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. ********
4) Wed. Jan 20 Embryology of Amphibians (salamanders & frogs). Advantages for Experiments;
slides and links to videos.
5) Fri. Jan 22 Snow day. Should have been Embryonic Development of Birds, Reptiles & Mammals. Why so similar?
6) Mon. Jan 25 Snow day. Should have been Experimental Embryology, Regulation, Fate maps, In Situ Labeling
7) Wed. Jan 27 Catch-up lecture: morphogenetic movements, twinning, and some other topics. lecture notes

8) Fri. Jan 29 Experimental Embryology; lecture notes; some additional information about Dictyostelium was added to these notes Tuesday afternoon.
9) Mon. Feb. 1 Pattern Formation in Embryonic Development; lecture notes
  revised review questions

More questions

Don't panic: many of these questions are similar to ones that appeared in the earlier lists.
This completes the list.

10) Wed. Feb. 3 Review for first examination
11) Fri. Feb. 5 First Examination
12) Mon. Feb 8 Easy Mathematics about Surface Curvatures, Tensions and Pressures; lecture notes;
video discussed but not shown in class
13) Wed. Feb 10 continuation of Monday's topics
14) Fri. Feb 12 Symmetries of Causes Control Symmetries of Anatomical Shapes; lecture notes
15) Mon. Feb 15 snow day
16) Wed. Feb 17 More on symmetry, then start Reaction-Diffusion Systems: How Instabilities Create Geometric Patterns
see 2016_videos.html for the cellular automata videos shown in class
17) Fri. Feb 19 Reaction-Diffusion Systems: Turing, and Liesegang Rings; lecture notes. updated Sunday 1:20 pm
18) Mon. Feb 22 Locomotion of Amoebae and Body Cells; lecture notes
new material has been added for Wednesday's lecture
19) Wed. Feb 24 Review for Second Examination
  first set of review questions

second set of review questions

third set of review questions

fourth (and last) set of review questions


20) Fri. Feb 26 Second Examination
21) Mon. Feb 29 Mesoderm Development, somite formation; lecture notes;
links to some videos about somite formation; also see chapters 5 and 6 in the textbook
22) Wed. Mar 2 Mesoderm continued: kidney and heart; see notes for Monday's lecture
23) Fri. Mar 4 Cartilage and bone; lecture notes
24) Mon. Mar 7 Ectoderm; lecture notes
25) Wed. Mar 9 Ectoderm, continued
26) Fri. Mar 11 Eye-Brain Connection, and Other Neural Projections; lecture notes
27) Mon. Mar 21 Some more on Chemotaxis:
then Teeth, followed by Endoderm; lecture notes
28) Wed. Mar 23 Extra-embryonic Membranes; lecture notes; a new illustration was added March 29th, 1:45 pm
29) Mon. Mar 28 Finish Endoderm; see notes for March 21
30) Wed. Mar 30 Review for third examination
  review questions


31) Fri. Apr 1 Third Examination
32) Mon. Apr 4 Electrical phenomena: blocks to polyspermy, galvanotaxis;lecture notes
fertilization in a sea urchin
video of cells aligning in a voltage gradient
33) Wed. Apr 6 Limb buds; please read Chapter 10 in the textbook; lecture notes
34) Fri. Apr 8 Regeneration, Especially of Salamander Limbs; lecture notes
some notes on arteries
35) Mon. Apr 11 Sex Determination (In Mammals, in Comparison with Reptiles, Flies, Bees); lecture notes
36) Wed. Apr 13 Metamorphosis (Especially in Amphibians in Comparison with Insects) lecture notes
37) Fri. Apr 15 Aging in Relation to Development; lecture notes
  Labs are now over for the semester.

38) Mon. Apr 18 Autoimmune Diseases as Failure of the Tolerance Mechanism lecture notes
Some new material was added to the notes Tuesday at 9:15 pm.
39) Wed. Apr 20 Cancer as Disruption in Embryological Mechanisms; lecture notes
revised April 25, 11 am, to include links to videos shown in lectures
40) Fri. Apr 22 Cancer, continued; additional notes on cancer treatment
41) Mon. Apr 25 Stem Cells; lecture notes
42) Wed. Apr 27 Evolutionary Developmental Biology; lecture notes
  review questions for the last part of the course:

first set of review questions Modified slightly Friday at 8:20 pm

second set of review questions

third set of review questions Modified Friday at 11 pm

fourth set of review questions


Dr. Harris will have office hours this week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday beginning at about 11:00 am.
Morning appointments can be scheduled if you need to see him but cannot come during these hours.

  FINAL EXAM: Thursday, May 5, at 8 AM