The origin and evolution of the mammalian brain has long been the focus of scientific enquiry. Conversely, little research has focused on the palaeoneurology of the stem group of Mammaliaformes, the Permian and Triassic non-mammaliaform Therapsida (NMT). This is because the majority of the NMT have a non-ossified braincase, making the study of their endocranial cast (sometimes called the “fossil brain”) problematic. Thus, descriptions of the morphology and size of NMT endocranial casts have been based largely on approximations rather than reliable determination. Accordingly, here we use micro-CT scans of the skulls of 1 Dinocephalia and 3 Biarmosuchia, which are NMT with a fully ossified braincase and thus a complete endocast. For the first time, our work enables the accurate determination of endocranial shape and size in NMT. This study suggests that NMT brain size falls in the upper range of the reptilian and amphibian variation. Brain size in the dicynodont Kawingasaurus is equivalent to that of early Mammaliaformes, whereas the Dinocephalia show evidence of a secondary reduction of brain size. In addition, unlike other NMT in which the endocast has a tubular shape and its parts are arranged in a linear manner, the biarmosuchian endocast is strongly flexed at the level of the midbrain, creating a near right angle between the fore- and hindbrain. These data highlight an unexpected diversity of endocranial size and morphology in NMT, features that are usually considered conservative in this group.

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