Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



The human brain is one of the most studied organs. To better understand its function, neurologists have analyzed and compared the brains of pigs (swine), cattle (bovine), sheep (ovine) to human brains. The purpose of this study was to replicate such comparative vertebrate anatomy studies in a collegiate laboratory to evaluate whether the addition of cattle and pig brains to the classical sheep brain dissection for undergraduate anatomy labs would be beneficial. Brains that were still enclosed in dura, arachnoid and pia mater (meninges) and with intact optic nerves were purchased for the comparative study. Cranial nerves, grey and white matter, sulci and gyri comparisons were made for each brain followed by mid-sagittal and coronal plane dissections. Morphological study shows bovine brains averaged a length of 20.3cm and weight of 376.84g. The ovine brains averaged a length of 12.9cm and weight of 142.33g. The swine brains averaged a length of 13.4 cm and weight of 127.92g. The weight of the meninges that were removed from swine averaged 9.93g, ovine 7.70g and bovine 20.86g. Cranial nerves I-V (Olfactory, Optic, Oculomotor, Trochlear and Trigeminal) as well as VII (Facial) were present on all three types of brains. Cranial nerve XI (Accessory) was still attached on the ovine and swine brains whereas Cranial Nerve XII (Hypoglossal) was only present on the swine brain. The ovine specimen had a longer corpus callosum and a more defined arbor vitae. Bovine and swine brain are circular-shaped, while ovine brains are more elongated and oval-shaped. Swine brains had larger and more developed lateral ventricles. Bovine brains had a more developed cerebrum and also more defined cranial glands, namely the hypothalamus, thalamus, and pituitary. In conclusion, coronal dissections also showed that bovine brains contained more sulci and white matter which is indicative of higher cognitive ability and shared the most similarities with human brain anatomy.

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