Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Temporary vascular organ found in most mammals, a wall of tissue formed by the fusion of membranes generated by both the fetus and its mother during pregnancy; the placenta functions to provide fetal nutrition, and to permit the exchange of respiratory gases and other materials, including the elimination of wastes, between the mutually exclusive circulatory systems of the mother and the fetus.

See chorioallantoic placenta, chorionic placenta, choriovitelline placenta, dichorionic placenta, epitheliochorial placenta, hemochorial placenta, monochorionic placenta.

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