Neuro-imaging maps brain wiring of extinct Tasmanian tiger

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | Jan. 19, 2017

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An 1862 illustration of the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger. The extinct marsupial had dog-like features, along with tiger-like stripes and an abdominal pouch. "The thylacine brain is very different than the canine brain, despite the physical resemblance of their bodies," says Emory neuroscientist Gregory Berns.

Scientists have used an imaging technique to reconstruct the brain architecture and neural networks of the thylacine – better known as the Tasmanian tiger – an extinct carnivorous marsupial native to Tasmania. The study, published in PLOS ONE, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to scan postmortem specimens of two thylacine brain specimens, both of which were about 100 years old.

The results, when compared to the Tasmanian tiger’s closest living relative, the Tasmanian devil, suggest that the larger-brained thylacine had more cortex devoted to planning and decision-making.  

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