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An early derivative of mesoderm after gastrulation; located between the notochord and the lateral plate mesoderm and gives rise to somites — transient structures that lead to vertebrae, ribs, dermis of the dorsal skin, and the skeletal muscles of the back, body wall and limbs. In the head region the unsegmented paraxial mesoderm will give rise to the facial muscles along with the neck and eye skeletal muscles.