Document Detail

Thomas Huxley and the rat placenta in the early debates on evolution.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  14972455     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The 19th century debates on mammalian classification in the light of the new evolutionary thinking led to controversies between Thomas Huxley and Richard Owen concerning the value of the placenta as a representative key organ. As a main point in his argument, Huxley provided a detailed description of a sectioned rat placenta, highlighting the importance of decidualization of the uterus as an argument supporting an evolutionary relationship between rodents, insectivores and primates, an idea hotly contested by Owen. In addition, he illustrated and correctly interpreted the maternal blood supply from uterus to placenta in striking detail. During the succeeding decades the key role of trophoblast in placenta formation was discovered, and the decidua became neglected in later comparative studies. Nevertheless, at the present time trophoblast-decidual interaction is regarded as an extremely important feature of placental development in both primates and rodents, and Huxley can therefore rightfully be considered as an early pioneer in placental research.
R Pijnenborg; L Vercruysse
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Biography; Historical Article; Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Placenta     Volume:  25     ISSN:  0143-4004     ISO Abbreviation:  Placenta     Publication Date:    2004 Feb-Mar
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2004-02-19     Completed Date:  2004-09-28     Revised Date:  2005-11-16    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8006349     Medline TA:  Placenta     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  233-7     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Universitair Ziekenhuis Gasthuisberg, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven,Leuven B3000, Belgium.
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MeSH Terms
Anatomy / history*
Decidua / physiology
History, 19th Century
Mammals / classification*
Placenta / blood supply,  physiology*
Pregnancy, Animal / physiology*
Trophoblasts / physiology
Personal Name Subject
Personal Name Subject:
Thomas Huxley

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