Symposium on the evolution and development of the vertebrate head

Michael J Depew, Lennart Olsson
Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution 2008 June 15, 310 (4): 287-93
Among the symposia held at the seminal meeting of the European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology was one centered on the development and evolution of the vertebrate head, an exquisitely complex anatomical system. The articles presented at this meeting have been gathered in a special issue of the Journal of Experimental Zoology, and are here reviewed by the organizers of the symposia. These articles cover a breadth of subjects, including interactions between cells derived from the different germ layers, such as those underlying neural crest cell migration and fate and cranial muscle specification, as well as placode development and the origin, development, and evolution of important evolutionary innovations such as jaws and the trabecula cranii. In this introduction, we provide a short historical overview of themes of research into the fundamental organization, structure, and development of the vertebrate head, including the search for head segmentation and the relevance of the New Head Hypothesis, and subsequently present the topics discussed in each of the articles. This overview of the past and the present of head evo-devo is then followed by a glimpse at its possible future and a brief examination of the utility of the notions of heterochrony, heterotopy, and heterofacience in describing evolutionarily important changes in developmental events.

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