Animations of urogenital development

I found these on youtube, a couple of nice cartoony animations of the development of the urogenital system. This is one of the weirder modules in organogenesis, I think; many strange things go on that are relics of ancestral states. We actually build three pairs of kidneys—pronephros, mesonephros, and metanephros—and throw each one away in succession, except the last. Both sexes form paramesonephric (or Müllerian) ducts, in blue in the animation, and these form the core of the female plumbing, but again, males basically throw it away and use a more primitive duct (the mesonephric or Wolffian ducts, in green). It’s a bizarre way to construct an organ, but what’s going on is that we have two systems, excretion and reproduction, tied together in ways that constrain the other’s development, and each is building on elements of the other.

It’s in French, but that shouldn’t slow anyone down. It’s easy to figure out what “paramesonephrique” must refer to, for instance.




  1. says

    Cheers for these. Will check them out once I’m at home. At University know and the computers sound is disabled :-S. Should have brought my headphones.

    Beyond Belief meeting at the salk institute was great. I just finished watching all the sessions today and found them very interesting and entertaining. I particularly enjoyed Neil DeGrasse Tyson, his absolute passion for his subject is inspiring and I wish more people acted like him. Sam Harris & Richard Dawkins where great as always but I also found out about some new scientists like VJ Ramachandran, Laurence Kraus, Patricia Churchland and Sir Harold Kroto all whos views and opinion I enjoyed (probably because I agreed lol).

    If you haven’t checked them out you should. When you get time. They are long.



  2. amph says

    These are really cool, thanks for the link. Perfect for teaching purposes.
    But why call it ‘a bizarre way to construct an organ’? It would be bizarre if a supernatural engineer would create an organ this way. This is another example showing that recapitulation theories sometimes make a lot of sense. (Not that this is going to convince any creationist.)

  3. says

    Every day I learn something new that refutes “intelligent design”. The only way this kind of thing makes sense is evolution and the conservation of fetal development. I would *love* to show this to an ID person and watch them try to explain their way out of it.

  4. Steve T says

    [quote]I would *love* to show this to an ID person and watch them try to explain their way out of it.[/quote]

  5. Steve T says

    Geez, what button did I hit?

    Anyway, I was just going to say that I wouldn’t be too anxious to show this to an IDiot in the hopes of watching their heads explode. It never ceases to amaze me how much creative gymnastics they can employ simply to avoid the obvious, logical conclusion. Sometimes reading the trolls on Panda’s Thumb makes me feel like *my* head is going to explode.

  6. phat says

    OK, I’m late to this conversation. But I was born with 3 kidneys. One was removed when I was a child, as it was causing problems. Could this be a previous version?

    I’m no biologist. I read this blog for the atheism talk and try to learn a little biology in the process. This post struck a nerve. Well, struck a nerve isn’t quite the way to put it. It made me think.

    By the way, my dad still has 3 kidneys.