Brain Evolution

 

Virtual reconstruction of the skull and the endocast of the extinct marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex. Reconstruction was done using the Mimics software package.

Work in the Weisbecker lab aims to connect some of the sweeping hypotheses of cross-species evolutionary study with the developmental processes underlying them. In a large-scale, interdisciplinary research effort, the aim is to connect traditionally separated researches of brain evolution, including:

  • Correlating brain size of extant animals with life history and behavioural traits
  • evolution of brain size through time, growth of the brain
  • relative brain partition growth
  • maturity of the brain at different developmental stages
  • cellular composition of the brain

Current work in progress, funded by an ARC DECRA, is a large-scale effort of obtaining virtual endocasts of extant and extinct marsupials in order to trace marsupial brain size and -shape evolution through time. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Wroe and Prof. Michael Archer (as well as many other generous CT scan donors from around the world).

Other research under the DECRA includes work on the interaction between marsupial brain size and behaviour, and a study on the diversity of brain shapes within marsupials.