What kind of evo neuroscience blog would this be if I didn't blog on this?
Paleontologists found some fossils in Kansas which turned out to be actual fossilized brains, a extremely rare event in paleoneurology. Usually, paleoneurological data come from cranium endocasts, which are thought to be reasonable proxies for real brains. In this case, however, the whole brain from the extinct chimaeroid fish Sibyrhynchus denisoni, a cartilaginous fish closely related to sharks and ratfishes .midbrain, medulla and cerebellum, and some cranial nerves can also be seen: the optic nerve, composed of the axons which connect retinal ganglion cells to central visual areas, can be seen projecting to very large optic tecta; oculomotoris nerves, which project from the optic tectum to the eye muscles, can also be seem. This species seemed to have big eyes (consistent with the size of their tecta), as inferred from the dimensions of their eye sockets. On the other hand, the regions of its brain which are responsible for auditory processing are rather small; according to Mo, this is consistent with
Inopterygii are an outgroup for Symoriidae, the clade which includes Holocephali - that is, chimeras (or ratfishes). Their outgroup, on the other hand, is composed by Elasmobranchii, true sharks:
Not very much else can be said about these brains. As interesting as they are, fossilized brains can account for macroanatomy and morphometric variables, but what is interesting - at least as far as optic tecta go - is microcircuitry such as lamination patterns. We need to wait and see what will come from further research on the brain of this inopterygian, then...
From the blogosphere:
"Oldest fossil brain find is 'really bizarre'", from LiveScience</div>"Fossil fish brains from Kansas", from John Hawks Weblog
"Anatomy of a 300 million year old brain", from Neurophilosophy
"First fossil brain: Shark relative that lived 300 million years ago yields very rare specimen", from ScienceDaily
 Pradel A, et al. (2009). Skull and brain of a 300-million-year-old chimaeroid fish revealed by synchrotron holotomography Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0807047106
 Clack JA (1993). Homologies in the fossil record: The middle ear as a test case. Acta Biotheoretica 41: 391-409. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00709373
 Kotrschal K, van Staaden MJ, Huber R (1998). Fish brains: Evolution and environmental relationships. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 8: 373-408. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1008839605380
 Deacon TW (1990a). Fallacies of progression in theories of brain-size evolution. International Journal of Primatology 11: 193-236. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02192869
 Deacon TW (1990b). Problems of ontogeny and phylogeny in brain size evolution. International Journal of Primatology 11: 237-282. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02192870</div></div></div></div>
The Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference is in trouble — government support has been flat, and corporate support has been declining. They are really in trouble: here's what I got from one of the people working on it:
The CUPC is the largest conference in North America organized entirely by undergraduate students. It brings together students from across Canada and the world studying a vast array of subject areas from mathematical and theoretical physics to medical biophysics to engineering and applied physics. This important event gives many students their first experience with academics outside of the classroom, and helps to cultivate an interest in research and higher study. I, and every one else working on the organization of this event, would therefore be extremely grateful if you would be willing to post a link to your blog for the conference (http://cupc.ca/) and ask for donations (which are accepted on the site). The conference is in only a few short days and we are desperate for funds. If the we cannot find adequate support, this will be the 44th and final CUPC, which will be a tremendous shame for science education.
If you can, donate. If you know any potential sponsors who care about undergraduate physics research, pass the word on.