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Brain Behav Evol. 2008;71(1):68-86. Epub 2007 Oct 5.

Morphology and evolutionary biology of the dolphin (Delphinus sp.) brain--MR imaging and conventional histology.

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  • 1Institute of Anatomy III (Dr. Senckenbergische Anatomie), Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Oelschlaeger@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Abstract

Whole brains of the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) were studied using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in parallel with conventional histology. One formalin-fixed brain was documented with a Siemens Trio Magnetic Resonance scanner and compared to three other brains which were embedded in celloidin, sectioned in the three main planes and stained for cells and fibers. The brain of the common dolphin is large, with the telencephalic hemispheres dominating the brain stem. The neocortex is voluminous and the cortical grey matter thin but extremely extended and densely convoluted. There is no olfactory ventricular recess due to the lack of an anterior olfactory system (olfactory bulb and peduncle). No occipital lobe of the telencephalic hemisphere and no posterior horn of the lateral ventricle are present. A pineal organ could not be detected. The brain stem is thick and underlies a very large cerebellum. The hippocampus and mammillary body are small and the fornix is thin; in contrast, the amygdaloid complex is large and the cortex of the limbic lobe is extended. The visual system is well developed but exceeded by the robust auditory system; for example, the inferior colliculus is several times larger than the superior colliculus. Other impressive structures in the brainstem are the peculiar elliptic nucleus, inferior olive, and in the cerebellum the huge paraflocculus and the very large posterior interpositus nucleus. There is good correspondence between MR scans and histological sections. Most of the brain characteristics can be interpreted as morphological correlates to the successful expansion of this species in the marine environment, which was characterized by the development of a powerful sonar system for localization, communication, and acousticomotor navigation.

(c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.

PMID:
17975302
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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