Jul 1, 1997

Genome size, secondary simplification, and the evolution of the brain in salamanders

Brain, Behavior and Evolution
Gerhard RothDavid B Wake

Abstract

Compared to other vertebrates, even including lampreys and hagfishes in some respects, salamanders exhibit a relatively simple organization of brain and sense organs which is illustrated here using the visual system as an example. The greatest simplicity is found in the bolitoglossine salamanders, yet all bolitoglossines possess highly projectile tongues and rely on vision for survival; furthermore, some species are agile and acrobatic. The unusual features of the visual system of salamanders include small numbers of large neurons, a low degree of morphological differentiation among neurons, a small proportion of myelinated axons in the optic nerve, and an optic tectum consisting essentially of a periventricular cellular layer and a superficial fiber layer. Similar features are found throughout the central nervous system of salamanders and in the lateral line, auditory and olfactory systems as well. Phylogenetic analysis shows that the most parsimonious interpretation of these data is that the simple organization of the brain and sense organs of salamanders was derived secondarily from a more complex ancestral state. We hypothesize that increased genome size has led to simplification of the nervous system in salamanders. Increa...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Optic Lobe, Human
Genome
Neurons
Brain
Phylogeny
Cell Differentiation Process
Cell Division Phases
Cell Volume
Salamanders
Metazoa

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