Ancient comb jelly had more complex nerves than its modern relatives

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By James Urquhart

Comb jelly

An artist’s impression of the comb jelly fossil

Holly Sullivan

A comb jelly fossil from some 500 million years ago shows a previously unknown species of these ancient sea animals that had a more complex nervous system than their modern descendants.

Evolutionary theory doesn’t preclude the possibility of organisms becoming simpler over geological time, but it’s a relatively uncommon phenomenon. Examples are mostly limited to ancient arthropods, sea lilies, and brachiopods – also known as lamp shells.

“Comb jellies occupy a much earlier position in the animal tree of life [than arthropods and brachiopods], so it is filling …

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