Worm Discovery Illuminates How Our Brains Might Have Evolved
Our earliest invertebrate ancestors did not have brains. Yet, over hundreds of millions of years, we and other vertebrates have developed amazingly complicated mental machinery. “It must have evolutionary roots somewhere, but where?” wrote Henry Gee, an editor at Nature, in an essay published in the journal’s March 15 issue.
Years of study of common invertebrate lab subjects, such as amphioxus or nematodes, have yielded scant evidence as to the origins of the big, centralized brains we all develop as embryos. Until, that is, researchers turned their gaze to the humble acorn worm.