Comparative Neuroscience and Neurobiology by Louis N. Irwin (auth.)

By Louis N. Irwin (auth.)

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The posterior horns have a stunted appearance. A short, pointed lateral horn is discernible at thoracolumbar Ievels. In Tursiops, the ventral columns of white matter are strongly developed. Clarke's columns are fused into a single median nucleus, at least in the caudal part. The pyramidal tract is very small. The cortical projection into the cord is rather small; however, there seems no doubt that corticospinal fibers are present and form a crossed projection in cetaceans. According to one observer, the morphology of muscle spindies and neuromuscular junctions in Tursiops appeared similar to those of other mammals.

In the embryonie stage, the dolphin brain, like that of other mammals, is Ionger than wide. By the late fetal stage, the odontocete brain is globular in appearance, wider than long (Fig. 2). In postnatal mysticete brains, length and width are more similar. A dolphin brain viewed from the medial aspect of a sagittal section (Fig. 3) shows that the height is also great compared with the length. An S-shaped curving of the neural axis Jeaves the axis of the forebrain almost perpendicular to that of the midbrain, giving the impression that the forebrain rotated ventrally during development.

The seemingly paradoxical presence of a ''nosebrain'' without peripheral connections or sensory olfactory endings is one of the more interesting features of the cetacean central nervous system. The tiny terminal nerves that accompany the olfactory nerves in many vertebrate species are present both in fetal and in adult dolphins. Two external respiratory openings (blowholes) are present The Cetacean Central Nervous System 21 Figure 1. Right side of head, bottlenosed dolphin Tursiops. A, vestige of extemal auditory meatus; M, melon.

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