A CGI animation team has made an entirely new kind of kid’s movie: this one shows, for the first time ever, how an embryo’s face forms in utero. The video shows how the human face doesn’t just grow from a small size to a big size but assembles into one whole from many parts, “like a puzzle.” The key connecting piece is the philtrum, the space between the nose and the mouth.
The time-lapse video is from the BBC series “Inside the Human Body”–it’s an animated composite of embryo scans captured between 2 and 3 months gestation, the period during which a face develops. And it’s pretty cool. Check it out:
Whenever I study images of embryonic development I can’t help thinking about other creatures, and how humans started out as other creatures. It’s as if the evolution of a human face from Week One to Week Forty is a version of the evolution of the entire human species.
Graphics researcher David Barker told New Scientist that the animation process was a challenge: “It was a nightmare for structures like the nose and palate, which didn’t exist for most of the animation. Their formation is a complicated ballet of growth and fusion of moving plates of tissue.”