Eleanor Lutz

This Mesmerising Animation Shows How Babies Form

18 DECEMBER 2014


Created by designed Eleanor Lutz, this addictive animation takes us through the transformation from egg to baby, and teaches us an important lesson - at one moment in time, we all looked like a malformed chameleon baby (steps A1 to C1, specifically). 


Click here for a zoomable version.

Made from 396 sketches based on scientific data from Scott F. Gilbert's textbook, Developmental Biology, the animation starts with a zygote - a fertilised egg cell - which slowly multiplies through the process of mitotic division to produce a multicellular embryo.

First the zygote must undergo 'cleavage', which increases the number of cells up until the eight-cell stage. After the eight-cell stage, mammalian embryos undergo compactation, where the cells bind tightly to each other, forming a compact sphere called a morula. The cells then start to differentiate themselves into two groups - an outer layer of cells called the trophoblast, and an inner cell mass.

A process called cavitation occurs next, in which the outer cells start to leak water to the inside cells, and when they've multipled to between 40 to 150 cells all squished together, a fluid-filld cavity called the blastocyst will have been formed.

Of these two parts, the outer trophoblast will eventually form the placenta, and the inner cell mass will become the baby.

While Lutz says it's the most complicated animation she's made so far, she regrets not being able to show scale in it properly. "For example, the 24-week foetus is about 40 times heavier than a 12-week foetus, but you can't tell that from this drawing," she says.

Lutz is an amazing designer, and her site is filled with awesome animated infographics about everything from how the respiratory system works and biolumenescent creature charts to how to make your own computer. Check them out at her website, Tabletop Whale.

Source: Tabletop Whale