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Unique fossils age 0.5 billion years to see even the nervous system of the animal

Our planet often brings surprises to scientists. Paleontologists generally are more like hunters, and despite the fact that the quest for long-extinct animals are strictly on science, some discoveries like treasures. It is possible to tell about fossils found recently in China. Age of it — 520 million years, and the animal itself (Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis) is a relative of modern crustaceans.

Amazing is the fact that the breed was printed not only the chitin armor with all the details, but the nervous system of the animal. It’s almost unbelievable fortune, and certainly the best preserved instance of the structure of the nervous system of extinct millions of years ago animal. Usually saved only hard body parts like teeth, bones, and chitinous shells. Get mineralized tissue is extremely rare, and “colored” fossil of this type is generally unique. At the center of all fossils is a clear line of purple color, it is so-called the nerve cord (“spinal cord”). On the line visible thickening is ganglia, located between each of the pairs of legs of the animal. According to Javier Ortega-Hernandez, the head of the research team who found the fossil, these ganglia were something like a mini-brain for each of the pairs of feet of ancient crustaceans. After a detailed examination of the finds were discovered and dozens baleally auxiliary nerve endings, which were fan-shaped along the entire length of the strand.

The study of the fossilized nervous system of the animal revealed the presence of many nerve fibers with a length of about 0.005 mm. Now scientists want to find out was whether these fibres from the same fabric as the ganglia of the nervous cord. “Using fluorescence microscopy, we found that these fibers are actually individual nerve endings that are fossilized in the form of carbon films, with unusually clear detail. This fossil has significantly improved our understanding of the evolution of the nervous system,” says Javier Ortega-Hernandez.

Further analysis showed that the structure of the nervous system C. kummingensis similar (in some detail) with the structure of the nervous system modern Priapulid and onhover. I find it interesting that descendants of C. kummingensis nervous system was much more simple, so there is a process of degeneration.

In General, the nervous system of C. kunmingensis unique, modern organisms have some similarities of structure, as discussed above, but there is no comparison. Scientists continue to study C. kunmingensis obtain new information about the evolution of the Cambrian animals .