Tail bud formation was studied in chick embryos by light and electron microscopy. The caudal part of the neural groove at stage 11 is flanked by widely separated neural folds and merges posteriorly with the shallow primitive groove. The neural groove and primitive streak partially overlap. The depth of the neural groove gradually decreases antero-posteriorly within this overlap zone while the dorso-ventral thickness of the streak progressively increases. The anterior end of the streak begins to form a spherical accumulation of mesenchymal cells, the incipient tail bud, concomitant with closure of the posterior neuropore. Formation of the posterior body fold results in consolidation of the remainder of the streak into the definitive tail bud. The overlap zone between neural groove and primitive streak is retained as the tail bud forms. Thus the posterior end of the neural tube and anterior end of the tail bud overlap. The latter undergoes cavitation to form the ventral part of the spinal cord within this overlap region.

The tail bud is initially continuous with an overlying, flattened layer of ectoderm and an underlying, columnar layer of endoderm. A bilaminar ectodermal epithelium forms directly above the developing neural tube as the dorsal portion of the tail bud undergoes cavitation. Most of the endodermal cells are displaced from the ventral surface of the tail bud by the posterior body fold and condensed into a disk-shaped region which ultimately gives rise to tail gut.