The prochordal plate in the chick is a thickening of the entoderm in the anterior part of the area pellucida. It consists at first of several layers of yolk-charged cells, which finally lose their yolk and form a thin layer of entoderm.
The prechordal plate (an area of mesodermal proliferation immediately anterior to the notochord) arises immediately anterior to the primitive streak (and head process when the latter appears) in a part of the region once occupied by the prochordal plate. Later the prechordal plate comes to lie upon the dorsal wall of the foregut.
The premandibular cavities arise in condensations of the prechordal mesoderm. The cavities seem to appear during the rapid expansion of the prechordal mesoderm which occurs in response to a release from constraint imposed by surrounding structures. They are connected with one another across the midline by a usually solid bridge of mesoderm.
Later, the cavities are replaced by a mesodermal condensation which serves as a mold, on the surface of which the oculomotor muscles appear, arising before the disappearance of the premandibular head cavities.
Differences in the relations of notochord and hypophysis in the chick and robin may be explained by an analysis of the growth of the two forms. The analysis furnishes a basis for understanding the relations of the anterior end of the notochord in the mammal.