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KARL ERNST VON BAER (1792-1876)— COMPARATIVE EMBRYOLOGIST

JAMA. 1965;192(5):413-414. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080180071026.
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Baer, doctor of medicine without a practice, shifted his interest from gross anatomy to comparative anatomy, but made his greatest contribution in embryology. He described the notochord, advanced the hypothesis of the germ layer, recognized the similarity of the early stages of embryonic development in related species, and was the first to identify the mammalian ovum. He was born near Piep, Estland (Estonia), was taught reading and writing by a governess, mathematics and mathematical geography by a private tutor in languages, and music, general science, and botany by a part-time general practitioner.1 Baer began his study of medicine at the recently founded University of Dorpat, Estonia, over the wishes of his parents who preferred one of the German schools. Satisfied with the MD degree received at the age of 22 but not with the clinical training, he turned to Vienna, only to discover that he possessed a feeble interest

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