A recent publication in Nature settled a long-standing scientific argument about the evolution of insects. These findings also gave an insight look in the formation of complex brain structure over 520 million years ago. All these started when scientists found a 520-million-year-old external skeleton of Fuxianhuia protensa, an extinct type of
arthropod. This was found in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. It is the earliest known fossil to show a complex brain, according to the study published in the journal Nature. Nicholas Strausfeld co-author of the paper said “No one expected such an advanced brain would have evolved so early in the history of multicellular animals,”
“This fossil provides the most convincing, and certainly the oldest, description of nervous-system tissue in a fossil anthropod,” writes Graham Budd of Sweden’s Uppsala University Earth Sciences Department in a comment on the study. Nervous system provides the fundamental information on the evolutionary relationship of arthropods. In this study they found exceptional preservation of the brain and optic lobes of a stem-group arthropod, exhibiting the most compelling neuroanatomy known from the Cambrian. The researchers also found two eyes on stalks which contained traces of a substance they interpreted to be nerve tissue – optic nerves connected to a three-segment brain. “In principle, Fuxianhuia’s is a very modern brain in an ancient animal,” adds Strausfeld. It is remarkable how constant the ground pattern of the nervous system has remained for probably more than 550 million years. Hopefully these fossils will give us more information on the evolution of other species as well.
Summarized by : Md. Muntasir Ali, an M.S. Student, Plant Biotechnology Lab, BMB, University of Dhaka.
** with great pleasure GNOBB management find that more and more graduate students are coming forward to summarize the scientific articles for GNOBB. Md. Muntasir Ali is the sixth of them to kindly contribute science summaries for GNOBB.