Cell-type profiling in salamanders identifies innovations in vertebrate forebrain evolution

Science. 2022 Sep 2;377(6610):eabp9186. doi: 10.1126/science.abp9186. Epub 2022 Sep 2.


The evolution of advanced cognition in vertebrates is associated with two independent innovations in the forebrain: the six-layered neocortex in mammals and the dorsal ventricular ridge (DVR) in sauropsids (reptiles and birds). How these innovations arose in vertebrate ancestors remains unclear. To reconstruct forebrain evolution in tetrapods, we built a cell-type atlas of the telencephalon of the salamander Pleurodeles waltl. Our molecular, developmental, and connectivity data indicate that parts of the sauropsid DVR trace back to tetrapod ancestors. By contrast, the salamander dorsal pallium is devoid of cellular and molecular characteristics of the mammalian neocortex yet shares similarities with the entorhinal cortex and subiculum. Our findings chart the series of innovations that resulted in the emergence of the mammalian six-layered neocortex and the sauropsid DVR.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atlases as Topic
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Neocortex / cytology
  • Neocortex / physiology
  • Neurons* / metabolism
  • Pleurodeles* / physiology
  • Telencephalon* / cytology
  • Telencephalon* / physiology
  • Transcriptome