Cetacean Brain Evolution: Dwarf Sperm Whale (Kogia sima) and Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) – An Investigation with High-Resolution 3D MRIOelschläger H.H.A.a · Ridgway S.H.c · Knauth M.b
aInstitute of Anatomy III (Dr. Senckenbergische Anatomie), Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt a.M., and bDepartment of Neuroradiology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany; cNavy Marine Mammal Program Foundation and Department of Pathology, University of California, La Jolla, Calif., USA
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This study compares a whole brain of the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) with that of a common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The Kogia brain was scanned with a Siemens Trio Magnetic Resonance scanner in the three main planes. As in the common dolphin and other marine odontocetes, the brain of the dwarf sperm whale is large, with the telencephalic hemispheres remarkably dominating the brain stem. The neocortex is voluminous and the cortical grey matter thin but expansive and densely convoluted. The corpus callosum is thin and the anterior commissure hard to detect whereas the posterior commissure is well-developed. There is consistency as to the lack of telencephalic structures (olfactory bulb and peduncle, olfactory ventricular recess) and neither an occipital lobe of the telencephalic hemisphere nor the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle are present. A pineal organ could not be detected in Kogia. Both species show a tiny hippocampus and thin fornix and the mammillary body is very small whereas other structures of the limbic system are well-developed. The brain stem is thick and underlies a large cerebellum, both of which, however, are smaller in Kogia. The vestibular system is markedly reduced with the exception of the lateral (Deiters’) nucleus. The visual system, although well-developed in both species, is exceeded by the impressive absolute and relative size of the auditory system. The brainstem and cerebellum comprise a series of structures (elliptic nucleus, medial accessory inferior olive, paraflocculus and posterior interpositus nucleus) showing characteristic odontocete dimensions and size correlations. All these structures seem to serve the auditory system with respect to echolocation, communication, and navigation.
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