Inferred organization of a dinosaur brain
Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013, 10:00 AM -11:00 AM
++F.04.c. Vocal/social communication
, K. WADA
, M. V. RIVAS
, E. JARVIS
, D. SOARES
, D. FRIEDEBERG
, T. GLENN
, E. D. JARVIS
Neurobio., Duke Univ., Durham, NC;
Biol. Sci., Hokkaido Univ., Sapporo, Japan;
Durham Veteran’s Affairs Med. Ctr., Durham, NC;
Biol., Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD;
Envrn. Hlth. Sci., Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA
Because dinosaurs are extinct, no known viable brain material exists. The closest living relatives are crocodiles, which pre-date many dinosaurs, and birds, which post-date them. Therefore, the similarities between the brains of crocodiles and birds would suggest shared organization with dinosaur brains. Here, we used thirteen genes [PPAPDC1A, SEMA6A, FOXP1, FOXP2, SLIT1, COUP-TF2, ER81, LHX9, GRIN2D, GRIN2A, ROR-β, DLX6, LHX8] that we found define seven major cerebral subdivisions of the avian brain, consistent with a new understanding of avian brain organization (Jarvis et al., 2013; Chen et al., 2013), to decipher whether some or most of these regions exists in crocodilian brain. We found six regions in the alligator brain with a similar, but not identical organization as the avian brain. Two of these, the striatum and pallidum, make up the basal ganglia, which we know to be conserved among amniotes. The others include the pallial regions that in birds were recently redefined as the arcopallium, nidopallium, mesopallium, hyperpallium and associated primary sensory pallial fields. These regions in birds contain pathways for vocal learning behavior and other complex behaviors, and like in birds show hearing-induced gene expression when hearing alligator vocalizations. The more highly developed subdivision in birds was the hyperpallium, at the dorsal surface of the brain, which contains one of two visual pathways and somatosensory processing areas. Overall, the molecular topographic organization of the crocodilian cerebrum is about 90% similar to that of birds, including the presence of a relatively large pallium, an analogue of the mammalian cortex. These findings suggest that the brains of dinosaurs must have included a cerebrum with these six subdivisions that have the capacity to process complex, cognitive behaviors.
anatomical gene expression
NIH Director’s Pioneer Award
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