Brain Changes during Phyletic Dwarfing in Elephants and Hippos.

08:00 EDT 3rd April 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Brain Changes during Phyletic Dwarfing in Elephants and Hippos."

Of all known insular mammals, hippos and elephants present the extremes of body size decrease, reducing to 4 and a mere 2% of their ancestral mainland size, respectively. Despite the numerous studies on these taxa, what happens to their relative brain size during phyletic dwarfing is not well known, and results are sometimes conflicting. For example, relative brain size increase has been noted in the Sicilian dwarf elephant, Palaeoloxodon falconeri, whereas relative brain size decrease has been postulated for Malagasy dwarf hippos. Here, I perform an analysis of brain, skull, and body size of 3 insular elephants (Palaeoloxodon "mnaidriensis," P. tiliensis, and P. falconeri) and 3 insular hippos (Hippopotamus madagascariensis, H. lemerlei, and H. minor) to address this issue and to test whether relative brain size in phyletic dwarf species can be predicted. The results presented here show that the encephalization of all insular elephants and hippos is higher than that of their continental relatives. P. falconeri in particular has an enormous encephalization increase, which has so far not been reported in any other insular mammal. Insular brain size cannot be reliably predicted using either static allometric or ontogenetic scaling models. The results of this study indicate that insular dwarf species follow brain-body allometric relationships different from the expected patterns seen for their mainland relatives.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Brain, behavior and evolution
ISSN: 1421-9743
Pages: 1-15


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