IMAGES: Blueprint for a Heart

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Science  28 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5650, pp. 1483
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5650.1483b

A human heart forms from a pair of nondescript tubes that fuse and swell. By the fourth week after fertilization, the tiny organ is pulsating and beginning to coil into its final shape. Students can follow the twists and turns of circulatory system development with this nifty set of animations from anatomist Valerie O'Loughlin of Indiana University, Bloomington.

The eight lessons cover human circulatory embryology from the condensation of the rudimentary heart to the formation of the pericardial sac that sheathes the organ. Captions point out which unpromising-looking bulges will give rise to the atria, ventricles, and other structures and track how they change. Quizzes let students test their knowledge before and after watching each lesson. O'Loughlin just added a set of animations that illustrate the development of the head and neck, and within the next few months she plans to post others on the formation of the digestive system and the limbs.∼anat550/embryo_main

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