A neurological comparative study of the harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) brain

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The cetacean brain is well studied. However, few comparisons have been done with other marine mammals. In this study, we compared the harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and the harbor porpoise brain (Phocoena phocoena). Stereological methods were applied to compare three areas of interest: the entire neocortex and two subdivisions of the neocortex, the auditory and visual cortices. The total number of neurons and glial cells in the three regions was estimated. The main results showed that the harbor porpoise have an estimated 14.9 × 10(9) neocortical neurons and 34.8 × 10(9) neocortical glial cells, whereas the harp seal have 6.1 × 10(9) neocortical neurons and 17.5 × 10(9) neocortical glial cells. The harbor porpoise have significantly more neurons and glial cells in the auditory cortex than in the visual cortex, whereas the pattern was opposite for the harp seal. These results are the first to provide estimates of the number of neurons and glial cells in the neocortex of the harp seal and harbor porpoise brain and offer new data to the comparative field of mammalian brain evolution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007)
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2129-35
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010

    Research areas

  • Animals, Biological Evolution, Brain Mapping, Cell Count, Neocortex, Neuroglia, Neurons, Organ Size, Phocoena, Seals, Earless

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