• computed tomography;
  • encephalization quotient;
  • Mammalia;
  • fossil;
  • paleoneurology;
  • brain evolution


We generated a digital cranial endocast (infilling of the braincase) of Vincelestes neuquenianus, a Cretaceous theriiform mammal from Argentina, to achieve two goals. First, we described this endocast of Vincelestes to reconstruct the brain, associated soft-tissue structures, and internal osteological features. This report represents the first description of an endocast from a stem therian that is near crown group Theria (marsupials, placentals, and all descendants of that ancestor). Second, we examined 21 morphological characters related to the morphology of endocasts and endocranial osteology across 19 taxa (including Vincelestes) in the context of a current hypothesis about mammal phylogeny to identify potential synapomorphies for Theria. The digital endocast of Vincelestes is mostly complete, facilitating description in all views and allowing collection of accurate linear and volumetric measurements. However, it is unclear if the midbrain is exposed on the dorsal surface of the brain because of damage to this region of the endocast. Other portions of this specimen are extraordinarily well preserved, allowing identification of the accessory olfactory bulbs on the endocast, an ossified falx cerebri, and an osseous tentorium. The encephalization quotient (EQ) calculated for Vincelestes falls within the range of EQs of crown therians. Comparison of the endocranial characters across different mammalian taxa did not reveal any new synapomorphies for the clade Theria. Anat Rec, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.