Scientists discover oldest vertebrate brain at 319 million years old

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the University of Michigan have found in the skull of a 319-million-year-old fossil fish recovered from a coal mine in England more than a century ago, the oldest example of a well-preserved vertebrate brain.

The fish is called Coccocephalus wildi, which is an ancient ray-finned fish. The brain and its cranial nerves are about 2.5 cm long.

According to the authors of the study, the find will help solve the mystery of the evolution of the early nervous system.

The scientists scanned the fish using CT scans. When the fish died, the soft tissues of its brain and cranial nerves turned into a dense mineral that retained their three-dimensional structure in great detail.

“Perhaps, after death, her body was in sediments with little oxygen. Such conditions can slow down the decomposition of soft body parts.

In addition, the chemical microenvironment inside the cranium also helped to preserve the delicate brain tissues, replacing them with a dense mineral, ”the researchers noted.

In future work, the scientists hope to find more examples of fossilized brains in other animal remains. They will also continue to study Coccocephalus wildi, however they cannot use “destructive” research methods as it is the only specimen.


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