Scientists have described an ancient creature with a unique brain it “broke” evolution

(ORDO NEWS) — Fossils of a tiny sea creature that died more than half a billion years ago could force experts to rewrite a science textbook. Especially the part of it that talks about brain development.

We are talking about a tiny living organism that crawled on the surface of our planet 500-540 million years ago. Its scientific name is Cardiodictyon catulum.

For the first time, its remains were found back in 1984, but only recently have scientists been able to study the well-preserved brain and nervous system of this creature and describe their features,

What was the ancient being

Cardiodiction belongs to an extinct group of animals known as armored lobopods.

There were a lot of them at the beginning of the Cambrian period. They moved along the seabed using several pairs of soft, short legs that had no joints.

Scientists have described an ancient creature with a unique brain it broke evolution 2
A fossilized Cardiodictyon catenulum was found in 1984 in Yunnan, China. In this photo, the head of the animal is on the right

The creatures themselves were small – about 1.5 cm. Their closest living relatives are called velvet worms that live in Australia, New Zealand and South America.

What surprised scientists

Previously, the prevailing view was that the brains of ancient creatures like the Cardiodictyon catenulum were partly composed of ganglia (that is, collections of nerve cells) derived from the abdominal nervous system.

But the fossilized brain of the Cambrian find showed something new: it turned out that it had already been divided into three separate brain components even before the evolution of the head.

Scientists have described an ancient creature with a unique brain it broke evolution 3
The purple areas show traces of fossilized neural tissue and the brain of Cardiodictyon catenulum

The discovery suggests that the cerebral and caudal nervous systems of these ancient creatures developed differently.

According to Nicholas Strausfeld, a professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Arizona, for more than a century it was believed that this could not happen in arthropods and their ancestors.

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