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Breakthrough model reveals evolution of ancient nervous systems through seashell colors
Date:1/12/2012

fitting the parameters to create a basic model for the patterns of a given species.

The results of this study have allowed the researchers to estimate the shell pigmentation patterns of ancestral species, identify lineages in which one or more parameters have evolved rapidly, and measure the degree to which different parameters correlate with the evolutionary development and history of the organisms. Since the parameters are telling the researchers something about the circuitry of the mollusks' nervous system, this is an indirect way to study the evolution of a simple nervous system.

"We've found that some aspects of the nervous system have remained quite stable over time, while there is a rapid evolution of other portions," said Ermentrout.

"In the future, we hope to use similar ideas to understand other pattern-forming systems that are controlled by the nervous system," Ermentrout added. "For instance, we would really like to develop models for some of the cephalopods like the cuttlefish and the octopus, which are able to change patterns on their skin in an instant."


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Contact: B. Rose Huber
rhuber@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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