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Brain Behav Evol. 2000 Oct;56(4):204-11.

Relative volume of the cerebellum in dolphins and comparison with anthropoid primates.

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  • 1Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology Program, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., USA.


According to the 'developmental constraint hypothesis' of comparative mammalian neuroanatomy, brain growth follows predictable allometric trends. Therefore, brain structures should scale to the entire brain in the same way across mammals. Evidence for a departure from this pattern for cerebellum volume has recently been reported among the anthropoid primates. One of the mammalian groups that has been neglected in tests of the 'developmental constraint hypothesis' is the cetaceans (dolphins, whales, and porpoises). Because many cetaceans possess relative brain sizes in the range of primates comparative tests of the 'developmental constraint hypothesis' across these two groups could help to delineate the parameters of this hypothesis. In this paper, we compare relative cerebellum volumes in two cetacean species, the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), with published data from anthropoid primates. We found that relative cerebellum size is significantly greater in the two dolphin species than in any of the primates, including humans. These results suggest that there is possibly expansion of brain structures independent of strictly allometric processes.

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