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BIOLOGY:
- ANATOMY -
INTERNAL ANATOMY: Rotating View of the Brain
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On this page, a rotational view of the thylacine brain (endocranial cast) is shown.  An endocranial cast (endocast) is usually created by pouring a quantity of moulding material such as siliconized latex into a skull's cranial cavity to form a coating on the inner surface.  After the material cures, the resulting flexible impression (which is a hollow membrane) is then extracted back through the foramen magnum (the large hole at the base of the skull which allows passage of the spinal cord).  The hollow inside of the mould is then filled with plaster to maintain its inflated shape.  In mammals, endocasts look remarkably brain-like, resembling an intact brain with the dura mater in place.  This thylacine endocast was made by Professor Heinz Moeller in the late 1960s.

To view in full screen mode, double-click on the picture.

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Courtesy: Nicholas Ayliffe (ITSD Project).

Occasionally, endocasts are formed naturally.  This occurs when sediment such as sand or mud is washed into a skull's cranial cavity prior to fossilization, and then becomes fossilized along with the skull itself.  Millions of years later, when earth movements eventually expose the complete fossil skull, weathering occurs which destroys most of the bone but leaves behind the natural endocast since it is made of a harder material that is more resistant to weathering.  Well known examples of natural endocasts include those of the Late Eocene mammal Bathygenys reevesi.

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back to: Internal Anatomy (page 7)


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