Classic theories of vertebrate head segmentation clearly exemplify the idealistic nature of comparative embryology prior to the 20th century. Comparative embryology aimed at recognizing the basic, primary structure that is shared by all vertebrates, either as an archetype or an ancestral developmental pattern. Modern evolutionary developmental (Evo-Devo) studies are also based on comparison, and therefore have a tendency to reduce complex embryonic anatomy into overly simplified patterns. Here again, a basic segmental plan for the head has been sought among chordates. We convened a symposium that brought together leading researchers dealing with this problem, in a number of different evolutionary and developmental contexts. Here we give an overview of the outcome and the status of the field in this modern era of Evo-Devo. We emphasize the fact that the head segmentation problem is not fully resolved, and we discuss new directions in the search for hints for a way out of this maze
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