Embryology is the study of the development of embryos of humans and other animals, based on anatomical specimens of embryos at different periods of gestation. The development of organ systems may be deduced and the origins of congenital defects recognized, so that events liable to interfere with development may be avoided. Embryology may reveal the basis for the separate development of identical cells and for control of growth. The anatomy of an organism may be better understood and learnt by study of embryology.


The principal embryologists of past ages have included Aristotle; William Harvey and Marcello Malpighi in the 17th century; and Karl Ernst von Baer in the nineteenth century.