amnion(redirected from amnions)
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A thin, cellular, extraembryonic membrane forming a closed sac surrounding the embryo in all reptiles, birds, and mammals. It is present only in these forms; the collective term amniotes is applied to these animals. The amnion contains a serous fluid in which the embryo is immersed. See Amniota
Typically, the amnion wall is a tough, transparent, nerve-free, and nonvascular membrane consisting of two layers of cells: an inner, single-cell-thick layer of ectodermal epithelium and an outer covering of mesodermal, connective, and specialized smooth muscular tissue. Early after the formation of the amnion, waves of contraction of the muscles pass over the amniotic sac and produce a characteristic rocking of the embryo. See Germ layers
The major function of the amnion and its fluid is to protect the delicate embryo. Thus, developmental stages of terrestrial animals are provided with the same type of cushioning against mechanical shock as is provided by the water environment of aquatic forms. See Fetal membrane
one of the embryonic membranes found in a number of vertebrates (reptiles, birds, mammals) and invertebrates. Depending on whether the amnion is present or absent, two groups are distinguished—the Amniota (or higher) and the Anamnia (or lower). The amnion develops around the embryo in the form of folds of the extraembryonic ectoderm and the peritoneum parietal of the lateral plates of the mesoderm—that is, the external and median germ layers. After accretion of the edges of the folds, the embryo is within two membranes—the inner membranes, or amnion, and the external, or serous, membrane (called the chorion in mammals). In reptiles the amnion is without vessels; in birds and mammals it develops vessels and contractile muscular elements. The amniotic cavity becomes filled with a large amount of exudate from the vessels—the so-called amniotic, or fetal, fluid which protects the embryo from mechanical injury and desiccation. The fluid contains organic compounds (proteins, urea, sugar, hormones) and also inorganic salts. The amnion bursts during parturition and the amniotic fluid escapes; the remnants of the amnion on the body of the newborn individual are called the rubashechka (“little shirt”). The blastoderm in insects, scorpions, nemerteans, and sea urchins is also called the amnion.