Apparent absence of claustrum in monotremes: implications for forebrain evolution in amniotes.
Butler AB., Molnár Z., Manger PR.
The claustrum, which comprises the claustrum proper and the endopiriform nucleus, is generally thought to be present in all mammals. Some previous reports of its possible absence in monotremes have appeared in the literature, but the question of its presence or absence in this clade has not been formally addressed. Whether monotremes have a claustrum is of some importance for formulating and evaluating hypotheses relating to the evolution of the structures in the lateral sector of the pallium across amniotes. Archival sets of sections through the brains of the platypus and the short-beaked echidna were examined and included material stained for seven different histochemical and immunohistochemical protocols. No cytoarchitectonically distinct claustrum could be identified in this material for either monotreme. We thus conclude that if monotremes have any cell population that is homolgous to the claustrum of therian mammals, it is entirely cryptic. A claustrum might have been present in ancestral mammals and lost in the monotreme clade, or it might have been gained at the origin of therian mammals. Nonetheless, its absence as a cytoarchitectonically discrete and identifiable structure in monotremes fails to support homology of the claustrum of therian mammals with any single part of the sauropsid pallium.