Half-billion-year-old fossils reveal three-eyed creature

Paleontologists from the Royal Ontario Museum have announced the discovery of an incredible cache of fossils that preserved the brain and nervous system of an ancient three-eyed marine predator. The animal belongs to an ancient, extinct branch of an arthropod evolutionary tree called Radiodonta, which is distantly related to modern insects and spiders. Study details have been published in current biology.

Exceptional find

The researchers made this discovery at the Burgess Shale. It is a formation in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia known for fossilized animal remains from More than 500 million years. They all represent a new species called Stanley Karis Herpics.

Although fossilized brains from the Cambrian period are not new, this find stands out for the astonishing quality of preservation and the large number of specimenssaid Joseph Moisiuk, lead author of this work. ” We can even provide minute details such as the visual processing centers that serve the large eyes and the traces of nerves that enter the appendages. The details are so clear that you feel like you’re looking at a dead animal yesterday“.

More interesting: file brain and nerve remnants 84 of these fossils are still preserved. Everything has evolved 506 million years.

Prior to this, there had been only a few other discoveries of fossilized brains, especially from the Cambrian period. However, it is still something very rareThe researcher adds. ” In addition, most species with fossilized brains are represented by only one or two specimens.

Two fossil samples from Stanley Karis Herpics. Credits: Royal Ontario Museum / Jean-Bernard Caron
Stanley Karis Herpics
Technical reconstruction of species. The superior individual is transparent to show the internal organs. The nervous system is shown in light beige. The digestive system is shown in dark red. Credits: Sabrina Capel.

three-eyed predator

Although it was small (less than twenty centimeters long), S. Herpics Perhaps it was a formidable predator. The creature wears long rake-like spines to comb the seabed and side flaps to help it glide through the water. Two huge appendages At the level of the mouth it may be used to crush its prey.

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Fossils show that the brain S. Herpics I was divided into two parts : protocerebrum and deutocerebrum. The first is attached to its eyes, and the second is attached to the front claws. This brain structure differs from the three-lobed structure of modern arthropods, which are distant relatives S. HerpicsLike the insects. ” Preserving the brains of these animals gives us direct insight into the evolution of the nervous system from the perspective of the fossil record.Underline the authors.

Another interesting aspect S. Herpics It was his enlarged third eye located between his side eyes. This is the first time that such a characteristic has been observed in this type of animal. Paleontologists still do not know his function. However, they assume that this third eye can have Help the animal orient itself or track its prey.

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About the Author: Octávio Florencio

"Evangelista zumbi. Pensador. Criador ávido. Fanático pela internet premiado. Fanático incurável pela web."

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