Prenatal development (biology)

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For human prenatal development, see prenatal development.

Prenatal development is the process in which an immature individual develops before birth. For instance, mammalian prenatal development is the process where an embryo or fetus (or foetus) gestates during pregnancy, from fertilization until birth.

Prenatal development starts with fertilization, which marks the beginning of embryogenesis. Embryogenesis, in turn, continues in fetal development, which lasts until birth.


Main article: Fertilisation

Fertilisation or fertilization (also known as conception, fecundation and syngamy), is fusion of gametes to form a new organism of the same species. In animals, the process involves a sperm fusing with an ovum, which eventually leads to the development of an embryo. Depending on the animal species, the process can occur within the body of the female in internal fertilization, or outside in the case of external fertilization.


Main article: Embryogenesis

Embryogenesis is the process by which the embryo is formed and develops. It starts with the fertilization of the ovum or oocyte (also known as the egg), which, after fertilization, is then called a zygote. The zygote undergoes rapid mitotic divisions, the formation of two exact genetic replicates of the original cell, with no significant growth (a process known as cleavage) and cellular differentiation, leading to development of an embryo. It occurs in both animal and plant development.

Fetal development[edit]

Main article: Fetus (biology)

In viviparous organisms, the embryonic stage is succeeded by the fetal stage. Often, however, the term 'fetal development' is used in a similar sense to 'prenatal development'.

See also[edit]


1. The biology of prenatal development. (n.d.). Retrieved from