Embryology is the branch of biology that studies the prenatal development of gametes, fertilization, and development of embryos and fetuses. Additionally, embryology encompasses the study of congenital disorders that occur before birth, known as teratology. Early embryology was proposed by Marcello Malpighi, and known as preformationism. The theory that organisms develop from pre-existing miniature versions of themselves. Then Aristotle proposed the theory that is now accepted, epigenesis. Epigenesis is the idea that organisms develop from seed or egg in a sequence of steps. Modern embryology developed from the work of Karl Ernst von Baer, though accurate observations had been made in Italy by anatomists such as Aldrovandi and Leonardo da Vinci in the Renaissance.As recently as the 18th century, the prevailing notion in western human embryology was preformation: the idea that semen contains an embryo – a preformed, miniature infant, or homunculus – that simply becomes larger during development. Embryology, the study of the formation and development of an  embryo and fetus. Before widespread use of the microscope and the advent of cellular biology in the 19th century, embryology was based on descriptive and comparative studies.

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