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J Hirnforsch. 1980;21(3):299-336.

The brain of the mammal-like reptile Probainognathus jenseni (Therapsida, Cynodontia). A correlative paleo-neoneurological approach to the neocortex at the reptile-mammal transition.


A natural endocranial cast of the South American cynodont Probainognathus jenseni is studied, and an evaluation of the probable nature of the neocortex at the level of certain cynodonts of the Middle Triassic is made, based in the available paleo-neoneurological information. The endocast of Probainognathus shows well developed olfactory bulbs, long cerebral hemispheres, small anterior colliculi and well represented cerebellum and flooculi. The pineal gland may have been located between the caudal hemispheric poles. No parietal foramen exists. The dorsal surface of the cerebral hemispheres shows a slope at the level of the anterior edge of the caudal fourth part, which is interpreted as the posterior limit of the neocortical plate. At the level of the olfactory peduncles, it is visible a stem vessel; one of its branches distributes on the anterior part of the lateral border of the hemisphere. It is advanced the interpretation that this latter vessel could indicate the paleo-neocortical boundary. The analysis of the neoneurological information led the author to suppose that the neocortex of Probainognathus, and surely of other cynodonts of the Middle Triassic, has shown supplementary somatic sensory and motor, visual and auditory representations, and perhaps incipient primary somati sensory and motor ones, advancing a "polymodal cortex", as it is supposed had stem mammals. Moreover, the histostructure of the neocortex at this state of the evolution may have been in a proisocortical-isocortical stage, that is, in the beginnings of the true neocortex. The confrontation of the paleoneurologic with the neoneurologic information led the author to suppose that Triconodon and Ptilodus have had a neocortex, surely more developed than Probainognathus, but that it is not seen in the endocasts at present studied. The quantitative analysis of Probainognathus' endocast, as well as those of other cynodonts, suggest that certain cynodonts of the Middle Triassic were in an advanced state toward endothermy.

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