Half a billion-year-old sea monsters’ fossilized brains served to connect modern arthropods to their prehistoric ancestors

Researchers of today are being aided in their field of study by  fossilized and shiny  brains of two prehistoric sea-monster looking creatures, to give them a better understanding of the evolution of the ancestors of modern day arthropods, like lobster and scorpions, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology  on May 7, Thursday.

Oval structure, called the anterior sclerite, were the focal point of the research, located in the ancient arthropods head. The anterior sclerite has been a source of bafflement by  researchers, because  a number of prehistoric arthropods have it while others don’t, and also depending on the fossil quality, its location on the head varies.

But now because of the fossilized brains, experts were able to help solve the mystery. The 500 million years old anterior sclerites in two arthropod fossils, were analyzed and the findings indicate that the structures were closely associated with the creatures’ bulbous eyes. These findings provide concrete evidence that the oval structures were associated with nerves coming from the anterior brain region, according to the study.

“We can say, ‘Ah-ha, where does anterior sclerite come from? It comes from the anterior most part of the brain — the forebrain,'” Javier Ortega-Hernández, a study research of paleobiology at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom disclosed.

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/weird-science/500-million-year-old-brains-sea-monsters-hint-how-heads-n356276



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