Hamburger-Hamilton stages

Richard Gordon gordonr at cc.UManitoba.CA
Tue Dec 8 08:08:27 EST 1998

Dear Matt,
Each embryo used in labs is "staged" by assigning numbers to times at which
sharply distinguishable shapes and features of the embryo can be first
seen. This means: 1) the stage numbers are not uniformly distributed over
developmental time; 2) for "cold blooded" embryos, such as fish, insects
and amphibians, which develop over a range of temperatures, the
relationship between stage and temperature varies. In the latter case, it
is generally believed, though I have not seen it critically proven, that
the staging numbers apply independently of temperature. If so, this
actually raises a fundamental, unsolved problem of how an embryo can
develop at the same pace in all tissues, independent of temperature (see my
forthcoming book, The Hierarchical Genome,, for
a possible model). To answer your specific question, you want to look at:

Hamburger, V. & H.L. Hamilton (1951). A series of normal stages in the
development of the chick embryo. J. Morphol.  88, 49-92.

Best, -Dick Gordon

>    In a paper I am to review for my biology course, the Hamburger Hamilton
>stages of development are frequently talked about, but never explained.  I
>have checked in several texts in the college library, but have learned
>nothing.  Can anyone point me in the right direction for an explanation?
>Matt Sandel
Dr. Richard Gordon, Department of Radiology
University of Manitoba, Health Sciences Centre
820 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg, MB R3A 1R9 Canada

Phone: (204) 789-3828,  Fax: (204) 787-2080,  E-mail: GordonR at

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