Evolution May Be Drunk, But It’s Serious About Making Brains

A new study shows that the comb jelly Pleurobrachia bachei evolved its complex features, including neurons and muscles, separately from animals like us.Leonid Moroz and Mat Citarella

Our brains, perched atop a network of nerve cells that ascend the length of our bodies, are thought to have arisen once in an animal hundreds of millions of years ago and then evolved over time. However, new findings suggest instead that brains and nervous systems originated multiple times from scratch.

The findings, published today in Nature, highlight an ancient and gelatinous marine predator called a comb jelly. Unlike pulsating

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus11 min readScience
A Novelist Teaches Herself Physics: To explore loss and mystery, Nell Freudenberger journeyed into the atomic world.
Helen Clapp, a professor of theoretical physics at MIT, recounted the biggest news of 21st century physics, the detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), an international collaboration of scie
Nautilus7 min read
Is Tribalism a Natural Malfunction?: What computers teach us about getting along.
From an office at Carnegie Mellon, my colleague John Miller and I had evolved a computer program with a taste for genocide. This was certainly not our intent. We were not scholars of race, or war. We were interested in the emergence of primitive coop
Nautilus5 min readScience
In Brain’s Electrical Ripples, Markers for Memories Appear
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. It’s very easy to break things in biology,” said Loren Frank, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s really hard to make them work better.” Yet agains