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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1981 Oct 7;295(1078):509-24.

The problem of periodic patterns in embryos.


A segmented body-plan has developed at least twice during metazoan evolution: in the lineage including annelids and arthropods, where the segment is the unit of body structure, and in the ancestors of vertebrates, where a primary segmentation of the middle, mesodermal cell layer of the embryo imposes a spatially periodic character upon derivatives of other layers. The mechanism controlling the development of these periodic patterns has the property that the number of the serially homologous structures formed within each species is largely independent of the linear dimension, or scale, at which pattern formation occurs in individual cases. In this they contrast with other patterns of dispersed, homologous structures occurring in animal epidermis and dermis. The performance of various classes of model for the control of number in vertebrates somite formation are compared, in the light of experimentally and naturally observable properties of this aspect of pattern.

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