Quantitative analysis of forebrain pallial morphology in monotremes and comparison with that in therians.Zoology (Jena). 2019 06; 134:38-57.Z
We have made quantitative volumetric analyses of cerebral cortical (pallial) structures in the brains of three species of monotreme (Ornithorhynchus anatinus, Tachyglossus aculeatus, Zaglossus bruijni) and compared the findings with similar measurements in a range of therian mammals (6 marsupials and 50 placentals). We have found that although the iso- and periallocortical grey matter volume of the monotremes is about what would be expected for their brain size, the proportion of iso- and periallocortical white matter in monotremes is substantially lower than that in the forebrains of therians. This suggests that the forebrains of the three monotremes have fewer association, commissural and/or projection connections than those of similarly sized forebrains of therian mammals. We also found that the iso- and periallocortex of the platypus is relatively smooth-surfaced compared to similarly sized brains of therian mammals, with a distinct caudal shift in the positioning of cortical white matter in the forebrain, consistent with expansion of the posterior thalamic radiation. Central laminated olfactory structures (anterior olfactory nucleus and piriform cortex) are large in the tachyglossid monotremes (Tachyglossus aculeatus and Zaglossus bruijni) and large in xenarthran placental mammals, suggesting convergence of the forebrain structure of monotreme formivores with that of similarly specialized therians like the xenarthrans Myrmecophaga tridactyla and Dasypus novemcinctus.