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Brain Behav Evol. 1989;34(6):365-86.

Manatee cerebral cortex: cytoarchitecture of the frontal region in Trichechus manatus latirostris.

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Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville.


Members of the order Sirenia are unique among mammals in being the only totally aquatic herbivores. They display correspondingly specialized physiological, behavioral and anatomical features. There have been few reports concerning sirenian neuroanatomy, and most of these have consisted of gross anatomical observations. Our interest in Sirenia stems from the desire to understand neuroanatomical specializations in the context of behavior and the effort to elucidate trends in mammalian brain evolution. The architecture of frontal regions of cerebral cortex was investigated in several brains of the Florida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris. Through observation of sections stained for Nissl substance or myelinated fibers, several distinct cortical areas were identified on the basis of laminar organization. These range from areas with poorly defined laminae to those having 6 well-defined layers, some of which exhibit sublayers. Two cortical areas exhibit pronounced cell clusters in layer VI, and these stain positively for acetylcholinesterase and cytochrome oxidase. We hypothesize that these clusters may be involved in perioral tactile bristle function. Certain of our findings are consistent with previous observations in the literature on the brains of dugongs. On the basis of their lamination patterns, these frontal cortical areas appear to be organized into concentric zones of allocortex, mesocortex and isocortex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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