The cell mechanical and signaling pathways involved in gastrulation have been studied extensively in invertebrates and amphibians, such as <i>Xenopus</i>, and more recently in non-mammalian vertebrates such as zebrafish and chick. However, because culturing mouse embryos extra-utero is very difficult, this fundamental process has been least characterized in the mouse. As the primary mammalian model for genetics, biochemistry, and the study of human disease and birth defects, it is important to investigate how gastrulation proceeds in murine embryos. We have developed a method of using 4D multiphoton excitation microscopy and extra-utero culture to visualize and characterize the morphogenetic movements in mouse embryos dissected at 8.5 days of gestation. Cells are labeled by expression of an X chromosome-linked enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) transgene. This method has provided a unique approach, where, for the first time, patterns of cell behavior in the notochord and surrounding paraxial mesoderm can be visualized and traced quantitatively. Our observations of mouse embryos reveal both distinct differences as well as striking similarities in patterned cell motility relative to other vertebrate models such as <i>Xenopus</i>, where axial extension is driven primarily by mediolateral oriented cell behaviors in the notochord and paraxial somitic mesoderm. Unlike Xenopus, the width of the mouse notochord remains the same between 4-somite stage and 8-somite stage embryos. This implies the mouse notochord plays a lesser role in driving axial extension compared to <i>Xenopus</i>, although intercalation may occur where the anterior region of the node becomes notochordal plate. In contrast, the width of mouse paraxial mesoderm narrows significantly during this period and cells within the paraxial mesoderm are both elongated and aligned perpendicular to the midline. In addition, these cells are observed to intercalate, consistent with a role for paraxial mesoderm in driving convergence and extension. These cell behaviors are similar to those characterized in the axial mesoderm of frog embryos during convergence and extension, and suggests that tissues may play different roles in axial elongation between the frog and the mouse.