BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Researchers from the United Kingdom has stumbled upon what can be considered as the oldest nervous system ever seen in a creature. The scientists have discovered the oldest nervous system, which dates back to the Cambrian Era, approximately 520 million years ago.
This momentous discovery has been made by a team of paleontologists from the University of Cambridge. Taking a closer look at a fossilized shrimp-like creature dug up from a site in Southern China, the researchers discovered that the creature has been so perfectly fossilized that they could distinguish the subtle lines of a nervous system.
According to their paper on the discovery, which was published on the 29th of February in the science journal entitled Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the creature recovered from China closely resembles the modern day shrimp, and its lineage can also be traced to other modern-day species such as arthropods, crustaceans, and insects.
When the shrimp-like creature, also known as Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis, was put under the glass, the scientists observed the finer details of a rudimentary nervous system. According to their paper, the fossilized creature exhibited a rope-like spinal cord that span across the length of its body Furthermore, the creature was so well preserved that the scientists were capable of discerning other formations, such as nerve clusters, which were arranged along the spinal cord.
Upon closer observations, the team also discovered that the ganglia, or masses of nerve tissue, were much smaller towards the head of the shrimp-like creature. The scientists hypothesized that the progressively smaller ganglia could be part of the creature’s locomotor system.
Another stunning discovery made by the team is the resemblance between C. kummingensis and modern worms. They’ve seemed nerve ending springing up at regular intervals from beneath the creature. The team said that his feature can be found in modern worms, but it’s missing from other arthropods.
The shrimp-like creature, which was covered by layers of bone-like armor, lived during the Cambrian Era, approximately 520 years ago. According to Javier Ortega-Hernandez, a co-author of the study, these creatures, whose heritage can be observed in worms, spiders, crabs, and insects, could have reached lengths of up to 15 centimeters. Moreover, the C. kummingensis has approximately 80 legs.
The study on the creature’s nervous system was possible because of the way it has been preserved. Although it is not the first discovered specimen, previous attempts at discerning the finer details, because the creatures were poorly conserved.
Several other research project centered on the C. kummingensis, only provided insight into the creature’s anatomy. But the team said that the atmospheric conditions in Southern China are excellent for preserving the remains of such creatures.
Scientists have discovered the oldest nervous system which belongs to a shrimp-like creature that lived during the Cambrian era.