Four paleontologists have studied the oldest living brain discovered to date.

It is the brain of a lobopodian, invertebrate living in the seabed, having lived 525 million years ago, reports Numerama.

The researchers' study was published Nov. 24 in the journal Science.

Until now, scientists thought that brains did not fossilize.

“We therefore did not expect to find a fossil whose brain was preserved,” explains Frank Hirth, co-author of the study.

“This animal is so small that one would not even dare to look at it in the hope of finding a brain in it.


A brain almost identical to that of today

Indeed, the animal whose brain was studied is only 1.5 cm long… To map its brain without damaging it, paleontologists had to outdo each other in imagination because radiography was out of the question.

The brain was therefore photographed several times with high-resolution cameras.

The images were then superimposed in order to filter all the wavelengths and thus produce a faithful and precise cartography of the organ.

One of the major lessons of this study is that the structure comprising the brain and the nervous system of this animal has hardly changed in 525 million years.

"We have identified a signature common to all brains and their mode of formation", explains Frank Hirth, quoted by Numerama.

“We realized that each domain of the brain [is] specified by the same combination of genes, regardless of the species studied.

This helps identify a common genetic blueprint for building a brain.



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