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Brain morphology in large pelagic fishes: a comparison between sharks and teleosts

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A quantitative comparison was made of both relative brain size (encephalization) and the relative development of five brain area of pelagic sharks and teleosts. Two integration areas (the telencephalon and the corpus cerebellum) and three sensory brain areas (the olfactory bulbs, optic tectum and octavolateralis area, which receive primary projections from the olfactory epithelium, eye and octavolateralis senses, respectively), in four species of pelagic shark and six species of pelagic teleost were investigated. The relative proportions of the three sensory brain areas were assessed as a proportion of the total ‘sensory brain’, while the two integration areas were assessed relative to the sensory brain. The allometric analysis of relative brain size revealed that pelagic sharks had larger brains than pelagic teleosts. The volume of the telencephalon was significantly larger in the sharks, while the corpus cerebellum was also larger and more heavily foliated in these animals. There were also significant differences in the relative development of the sensory brain areas between the two groups, with the sharks having larger olfactory bulbs and octavolateralis areas, whilst the teleosts had larger optic tecta. Cluster analysis performed on the sensory brain areas data confirmed the differences in the composition of the sensory brain in sharks and teleosts and indicated that these two groups of pelagic fishes had evolved different sensory strategies to cope with the demands of life in the open ocean.

Keywords: cerebellum; ecomorphology; elasmobranch; encephalization; sensory system; telencephalon

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Vision, Touch and Hearing Research Centre, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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