Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by cmn32480 on Thursday March 03 2016, @09:37AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the what's-he-got-to-be-nervous-about dept.

Scientists have discovered one of the oldest examples of a nervous system:

It might resemble a menacing shrimp, but scientists have discovered an immaculately preserved 520-million-year-old creature was also a bundle of nerves.

Unearthed in southern China, the fossils boast among the oldest and most extensive nervous systems ever preserved, researchers claim. Unlike bones and teeth which are commonly found in fossilised form, soft tissue - and in particular nerve tissue - is another matter. "Nerve tissue is extremely rare, and only very few specimens show traces of brains or nerve cords," says Dr Javier Ortega-Hernández, of the University of Cambridge, who co-authored the study.

The soft-bodied shrimp-like creature, snappily named Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis, lived around 520 million years ago during the early Cambrian epoch. But while the species - one of a group of animals known as fuxianhuiids - was first reported by Ortega-Hernández and his colleagues three years ago, it is its internal workings that are now captivating the researchers, a team that includes scientists from China, Germany and the UK. Based on five individual fossils the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that C. kunmingensis had an intriguing nervous system. And as fuxianhuiids are the distant ancestors of modern arthropods - animals with jointed legs and segmented bodies including lobsters, spiders and millipedes - the study sheds new light on their evolution.

Extending along the length of the underside of the body of C. kunmingensis, the scientists discovered a nerve cord, which at intervals features clusters of nerve tissue - called ganglia - that would each have controlled a pair of its legs. "It looks like a string of dark beads," reveals Ortega-Hernández. The structure is also found in modern arthropods. However, the fossils also show that C. kunmingensis had a large number of nerve roots branching off from this nerve cord. "Although modern Arthropoda also have nerves, these are fewer in number," says Ortega-Hernández. "The only group where we find nearly as many nerves is in the velvet worms, which are cousins to the arthropods."

Also at Scientific American.

Fuxianhuiid ventral nerve cord and early nervous system evolution in Panarthropoda (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1522434113)


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @10:33AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @10:33AM (#313023)

    In geologic time, there is a gap between seeing something you like - and having sex with it - that we like to call "conversation".

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by DeathMonkey on Thursday March 03 2016, @06:49PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday March 03 2016, @06:49PM (#313233) Journal

      I'm sorry that you have to measure that interval on a geologic time scale. Have you considered showering?

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aiwarrior on Thursday March 03 2016, @11:51AM

    by aiwarrior (1812) on Thursday March 03 2016, @11:51AM (#313043) Journal

    I cannot add much in terms of discussion to this story because it is completely out of my field but as a man of science I find it a very interesting story and my regards go to the submitter.

    Remember just because it doesn't cause discussion it doesn't mean it isn't interesting. Actually it is much more interesting than some du jour Trump shit that causes lots of outraged comments.

    • (Score: 2) by tathra on Thursday March 03 2016, @05:46PM

      by tathra (3367) on Thursday March 03 2016, @05:46PM (#313195)

      i agree. any discovery of soft tissue more than like a million years old is awe inspiring, especially when its this old, not long after the cambrian explosion.

    • (Score: 2) by edIII on Thursday March 03 2016, @08:21PM

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 03 2016, @08:21PM (#313277)

      It may have not generated a lot of discussion, but apparently the comments are all pretty funny....

      I do agree. I was surprised there was only 7 comments when I got here. Nerve tissue surviving from the Cambrian period? Too cool.

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @12:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @12:09PM (#313053)

    The soft-bodied shrimp-like creature, snappily named Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis

    When I asked my speech program to pronounce "Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis" it said "Stop it. Just stop. And get your keyboard fixed."

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @12:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @12:15PM (#313055)

      Chinese cunnilingus. You know it's someone's fetish.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Thursday March 03 2016, @05:01PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 03 2016, @05:01PM (#313179) Homepage Journal

    Who got on his last nerve?

    --
    “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” ― George S. Patton on Ukraine