By Neus Ferrando Gilabert BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 07/29/2014

During that week the embryo keeps developing; on one side, a round head, thicker than the midpiece, is formed. On the opposite end, the tail is formed. Its size increases nearly 50%.

The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.

Gastrulation process

By the fourth week, the three embryonic layers (ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm) will be formed, through the process of gastrulation.

From that week, major changes in the development of its internal organs will take place; the main organs will develop from each one of the layers.

How do embryonic layers develop?

The blood vesicles that connect the early umbilical cord to the placenta are formed in the mesoderm. That structure will feed and provide oxygen to the embryo.

Composed of cells of the mesocord, the notochord is formed. It is a rod-shaped, flexible body whose main duty is to provide support until the spinal cord is completely formed.

The notochord, moreover, induces the formation of the central nervous system, by facilitating the formation of neural folds in the ectoderm that will coalesce and become the neural tube.

The ectoderm, therefore, originates the neural tube, that, before the fifth week is over, creates the spinal cord, the head is enlarged, and the brain vesica is formed. The neurulation process is thereby completed.

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Authors and contributors

 Neus Ferrando Gilabert
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (UV). Postgraduate Course in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH). Experience managing Embryology and Andrology Labs at Centro Médico Manzanera (Logroño, Spain). More information
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