Birds and crocodiles show radically different patterns of brain development, and it is of interest to compare these to determine the pattern of brain growth expected in dinosaurs. Here we provide atlases of 3D brain (endocast) reconstructions for Alligator mississippiensis (alligator) and Struthio camelus (ostrich) through ontogeny, prepared as digital restorations from CT scans of stained head and dry skull specimens. Our morphometric analysis confirms that ostrich brains do not change significantly in shape during postnatal growth, whereas alligator brains unfold from a cramped bird-like shape in the hatchling to an elongate, straight structure in the adult. We confirm that birds exhibit paedomorphic dinosaur endocranial traits such as retaining an enlarged and compact brain shape in the adult, whereas crocodiles show peramorphic traits where the brain elongates with growth as the skull elongates. These atlases of ontogenetic stages of modern bird and crocodilian endocrania provide a basis for comparison of non-avian dinosaur endocasts and consideration of the divergence of the "avian" and "crocodilian" modes of brain development and heterochronic change on phylogenies.
|Journal||Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 12 Dec 2020|