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Evolution of the Felid Brain; pp. 229–242Radinsky L.
Anatomy Department, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
Endocranial casts of 15 genera of fossil felids provide a record of felid brain evolution over the past 35 million years. Brains of the earliest felids, known as paleofelids, had coronolateral, suprasylvian and variably developed ectosylvian sulci as their only neocortical sulci. The last paleofelids, which became extinct around 8 million years ago, show little change in external brain morphology except for the addition of a presylvian sulcus. The other group of felids, the neofelids, appears about 25 million years ago, with coronolateral and suprasylvian sulci their main neocortical sulci, plus a discontinuous ectosylvian sulcus and small postlateral, sylvian and presylvian sulci. The posterior cerebellar vermis was straight and unexpanded. Beginnings of expansion of the sigmoid gyri and development of the cruciate sulcus are evident in neofelids 15–20 million years ago, and by 5–9 million years ago neofelids had brains that appear modern in external morphology. Endocasts of four genera of Pleistocene saber-toothed felids are similar in sulcal pattern to those of modern felids, except for Dinobastis, which had a unique expansion of visual cortex. Endocasts of 27 species of modern felids, representing the six commonly recognized genera, are strikingly similar in external morphology, although the brains of a few species, such as cheetahs, lynxes and jagouarundis, display distinguishing features. Modern felid brains average about the same size relative to body weight as do those of viverrids, but are about 25% smaller in relative size than those of canids. Olfactory bulbs are relatively smaller in felids than in canids or viverrids.
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