Phoenix, AZ

University of Arizona researcher involved in a study of ancient arthropods brains

Scott Murdoch

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PHOENIX, AZ - Nicholas Strausfeld, a Regent Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Arizona, has recently released a paper that contains a study of newly found fossils included in the arthropods family. The paper is now published in the Journal Current Biology.

The fossils, knowing to be preserved creatures namely Kaili Leanchoilia, belong to the arthropod family. Those creatures were roaming more than 500 million years ago and were preserved well.

Strausfeld led a study of what ancient arthropods’ brain looks like. The fossils surprisingly preserve the brain of Leanchoilia despite the timespan that passed more than half of a billion years. The fossils show a very good frontal domain of the arthropod’s brain that is not segmented and even invisible when they reach the adult stage.

From the invisible frontal domain, it can be seen that arthropods have important neural centers including stem cells that served as the decision-maker and memory. This frontal domain, namely prosocerebrum, was hypothesized to be different from the currently-living arthropods’ forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain.

Strausfeld said that “the extraordinary fossils we describe are unlike anything that has been seen before.” There are two nervous systems in the creature, showing that the presence of the front-most brain is unique and different even before the evolution stage of the three segmental ganglia of the present-days arthropods.

Pedro Martinez, the co-author of the study from the Universitat de Barcelona and Institut Catalá stated that the nervous system and other soft tissues, in general, are very hard to be fossilized. Tian Lan, the study’s first author from Guizhou Research Center for Palaeobiology at Guizhou University in China, also stated that those Kaili Leanchoilia’s fossils are the new window for researchers to know the evolution of animals that lived million years ago.

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