The Tasmanian tiger had a brain structure suited to a predatory life style

January 18, 2017

Scans of preserved Tasmanian tiger brains suggest that these extinct predators devoted more of the cortex to complex cognition associated with predation compared to modern Tasmanian devils, according to a study published January 18, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Gregory Berns from Emory University, US, and Ken Ashwell from University of New South Wales, Australia.

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was a carnivorous marsupial and the apex predator in Tasmania. But the last one died in 1936 and little is known about the species' natural behavior. However, some behaviors can be inferred from brain structure, so Berns and Ashwell scanned two thylacine brains and reconstructed neural connections. The researchers also compared the structure of thylacine brains with that of Tasmanian devil brains.

The researchers found that thylacine brains had larger caudate zones than Tasmanian devil brains. This suggests that thylacines devoted more of their cortex to complex cognition, particularly action planning and possibly even decision making. This fits with the ecological niches of these two animals: Tasmanian devils are scavengers while thylacines were hunters, and the latter foraging strategy entails more planning.
-end-
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168993

Citation: Berns GS, Ashwell KWS (2017) Reconstruction of the Cortical Maps of the Tasmanian Tiger and Comparison to the Tasmanian Devil. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0168993. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168993

Funding: The TTM-Trial was funded by independent research grants from the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation; Arbetsmarknadens Försäkringsaktiebolag Insurance Foundation; Swedish Research Council; regional research support, Region Skåne; governmental funding of clinical research within the Swedish National Health Services; Thelma Zoega Foundation; Krapperup Foundation; Thure Carlsson Foundation; Hans-Gabriel and Alice Trolle-Wachtmeister Foundation for Medical Research; Skåne University Hospital, Sweden; TrygFonden, Denmark; the European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network; and the European Critical Care Research Network. There was no commercial funding. Funding organizations neither had any access to the data nor had any influence on the analysis or interpretation.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Brain Structure Articles from Brightsurf:

Repulsion mechanism between neurons governs fly brain structure
Researchers at Kanazawa University report in Nature Communications the discovery that in the developing fly brain, neurons stemming from the same parent cell experience repulsion.

Found: Brain structure that controls our behavior
Solving problems, planning one's own actions, controlling emotions -- these executive functions are fundamental processes for controlling our behavior.

Neuroscientists discover new structure of important protein in the brain
A novel structure of a so-called 'neurotransmitter: sodium symporter' has been mapped at the University of Copenhagen.

Anti-psychotic medication linked to adverse change in brain structure
In a first-of-its-kind study using advanced brain imaging techniques, a commonly used anti-psychotic medication was associated with potentially adverse changes in brain structure.

More than a knee injury: ACL tears cause harmful changes in our brain structure
It's known that some joint function is often permanently lost after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, and re-injury is common even with intensive physical therapy, but it's unclear why.

Structure of brain networks is not fixed, study finds
The shape and connectivity of brain networks -- discrete areas of the brain that work together to perform complex cognitive tasks -- can change in fundamental and recurring ways over time, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Brain structure determines individual differences regarding music sensitivity
The white matter structure in the brain reflects music sensitivity, according to a study by the research group on Cognition and Brain Plasticity of the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (UB-IDIBELL).

Obesity linked with differences in form and structure of the brain
Researchers using sophisticated MRI technology have found that higher levels of body fat are associated with differences in the brain's form and structure, including smaller volumes of gray matter, according to a new study.

BRAIN Initiative tool may transform how scientists study brain structure and function
Researchers have developed a high-tech support system that can keep a large mammalian brain from rapidly decomposing in the hours after death, enabling study of certain molecular and cellular functions.

Stanford researchers outline the role of a deep brain structure in concussion
Through a combination of biometric tracking, simulated modeling and medical imaging, researchers detail how hits to the side of the head cause concussion.

Read More: Brain Structure News and Brain Structure Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.