We used magnetic resonance imaging to study the anatomy of cortical regions, nuclear groups, and major tracts in the brain of a monotreme, i.e., the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Our specimens were from a collection held at the Australian Museum in Sydney and had been stored in formaldehyde solution for at least 70 years. Despite this, we were able to detect fine detail in the nuclear divisions of structures as well as in fiber tracts. In particular, we could detect the medial lemniscus as it approached the ventral posterior thalamic nucleus, subdivisions within the ventral posterior thalamic nucleus, lamination and subdivisions within the hippocampal formation, components of the olfactory pathways, and nuclei within the temporal amygdala. We were able to map the topography of subcortical white matter and relate it to cortical regions determined on the basis of physiology, as well as chemical and cytoarchitecture. As expected, dense aggregations of fibers were noted in association with the primary sensory areas of the isocortex (somatosensory, visual, and auditory) and connecting primary olfactory regions (intrabulbar anterior commissure and associated fibers). We found longitudinal fibers in the basal forebrain (medial forebrain bundle) and brainstem (corticopontine and corticospinal tracts), as well as a dense array of fibers associated with the vermal and paravermal zones of the anterior lobe of the cerebellum. We also observed previously unrecognized fiber systems, i.e., commissural connections between the paired frontal isocortical fields (dorsal Fr1), dense fibers to the retrosplenial association cortex, and prominent, paired longitudinal fiber bundles in the dorsal forebrain (longitudinal fasciculus) that intersected the dorsal anterior commissure. The connectome results are consistent with the known neuroanatomy of this monotreme and they extend our knowledge of the fiber topography within this unusual brain. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of using this sort of imaging of archived brains to analyze the neuroanatomy of rare, endangered, and evolutionarily significant species.

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