Classics Revisited, History of Reptile Placentology, Part IV: Hanni Hrabowski's 1926 Monograph on Fetal Membranes of Lizards

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In 1926, the German biologist Johanna (Hanni) Hrabowski published a study of the morphology and development of the fetal placenta in lizards that has proven to be of historical importance. Her anatomical descriptions and interpretations identified developmental patterns that differ from other amniotes – features now recognized as unique attributes of squamate (lizards and snakes) development. Her 1926 monograph presented the first histological comparison of fetal membranes in closely-related oviparous and viviparous reptiles, thereby establishing a comparative framework for understanding placental specializations for viviparity. Hrabowski reported that yolk sac development did not differ between oviparous and viviparous species. The novel, shared components of yolk sac development she identified are now recognized as the foundation for the unique yolk sac placenta of reptiles, the omphaloplacenta. In addition, Hrabowski's extensive ontogenetic sampling and the detail and accuracy of her anatomical descriptions set high standards for subsequent studies of comparative evolutionary embryology.