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Early family ties: No sponge in the human family tree
Date:4/2/2009

ave nerve cells. Their now corroborated close relationship also suggests that the nervous system developed only once in animal history," Wrheide states. And yet, another recent and less comprehensive study concerning the non-bilaterians proposed the unorthodox hypothesis that the comb jellies had already diverged from all other species even before the sponges. "Since the comb jellies already have nerve and muscle cells, this would suggest that these features developed several times independently in animal history, or that they were lost in sponges and placozoans," explains the LMU researcher.

This new study, which compared more evolutionarily ancient life forms than ever before, presents a stimulating framework for future studies. "Our results can now be used to explore how certain key features evolved among animals," says Wrheide. There is evidence, for example, that part of the genetic toolkit responsible for building the nervous system in other animals was already present in sponges. Similarly, eye-like sensory organs can already be detected in box jellyfish. "One of the goals of future studies will now be to find out how and when the genetic toolkit for the nervous system, muscles and sensory organs evolved in animal history," Wrheide concludes.


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Contact: Luise Dirscherl
dirscherl@lmu.de
49-892-180-2706
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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