Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 170, Issue 1, pp 11–19

Quantitative neuroanatomy of the brain of the La Plata dolphin, Pontoporia blainvillei

  • Walter K. Schwerdtfeger
  • Helmut A. Oelschläger
  • Heinz Stephan

DOI: 10.1007/BF00319453

Cite this article as:
Schwerdtfeger, W.K., Oelschläger, H.A. & Stephan, H. Anat Embryol (1984) 170: 11. doi:10.1007/BF00319453


The brain of the La Plata dolphin, Pontoporia blainvillei, was studied with methods of quantitative morphology. The volumes and the progression indices of the main brain structures were determined and compared with corresponding data of other Cetacea, Insectivora and Primates.

In Pontoporia, encephalization and neocorticalization are clearly greater than in primitive (“basal”) Insectivora. The indices are in the lower part of the range for simian monkeys. The paleocortex is regressive in accordance with the total reduction of the olfactory bulb and olfactory tract. In contrast to the situation in primates, the septum, schizocortex and archicortex are not progressive in Pontoporia. The striatum and cerebellum are strongly progressive, corresponding to the efficiency and importance of the motor system in the three-dimensional habitat. The diencephalon, mesencephalon and medulla oblongata show considerable progression. Obviously, this is correlated with the extensive development of structures of the acoustic system.

The superficial correspondence of the brains of dolphins and primates in relative size and in the degree of gyrencephaly is rather a rough morphological convergence than a sign of functional equivalence. It is coupled to a strongly divergent development of the various functional systems in the two mammalian orders according to their specific evolution.

Key words


Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter K. Schwerdtfeger
    • 1
  • Helmut A. Oelschläger
    • 2
  • Heinz Stephan
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für HirnforschungFrankfurt a.M.
  2. 2.Dr. Senckenbergische AnatomieJoham Wolfgang Goethe-UniversitätFrankfurt a.M.Bundesrepublik Deutschland