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Brain Behav Evol. 1994;43(6):319-47.

Phylogeny through brain traits: more characters for the analysis of mammalian evolution.

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Anatomy Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1316.


We have assembled data on nine brain traits, in addition to the fifteen we have previously described, which provide new evidence for assessing mammalian relationships. States of these characters are tabulated as they occur in each of 152 mammalian species, providing data in numerically ordered form, useful for multiple analyses of phylogenetic relationships in programs which take into account variations in several different characters simultaneously. Derived states of each of the nine traits are characteristic of certain restricted groups of mammals; (1) mirroring of the complete SI body representation in isocortex (anthropoid primates); (2) loss of the accessory olfactory bulbs (sirenians, cetaceans, most bats, catarrhine primates); (3) Rindenkerne, clumps of cell bodies in layer 6 of cerebral cortex (sirenians); (4) posteriorly-pointing digits in the SI body representation (bats, both mega- and micro-); (5) equivalent tectopetal connections to the anterior colliculus of one side from both retinas, rather than predominantly from the contralateral retina (primates and megabats); (6) loss of lamination in dorsal cochlear nuclei (anthropoid primates, bats, seals, sirenians, cetaceans); (7) separation of claustrum from cerebral cortex (diprotodont marsupials, carnivores, artiodactyls, perissodactyls, hyracoids, cetaceans and primates), (8) presence of a complete secondary (SII) somatic sensory region of cerebral cortex (therians-all extant mammals other than monotremes), and (9) presence of a distinct external cuneate nucleus among the nuclei of the dorsal columns (all mammalian groups except monotremes and sirenians). Two examples of phylogenetic trees derived from these data are presented. These sample trees maintain the segregation of the monotremes and the marsupials, and the basic dichotomy of placentals seen in our earlier trees based entirely on brain data. They also show: an orderly sequence of bifurcations (rather than the commonly seen multifurcation near the base of the radiation) in the reconstruction of placental relationships; extremes of derivation for the Cetacea, the Chiroptera, and the Sirenia (in concordance with trees based on other data); a ferungulate association of Carnivora, Perissodactyla, Artiodactyla, Hyracoidea and Sirenia; and an assemblage of related Dermoptera, Primates, Scandentia, and Chiroptera which in this model also includes Insectivora and Macroscelidea. Analyses based on brain characters can reinforce conclusions based on other data, while at the same time introducing new ideas about relationships. Neural traits provide a source of data independent of those commonly used in phylogenetic analysis, and are extremely valuable for testing old hypotheses and for introducing new ones.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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