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Biotech Science

The 300 Million Year Old Brain 68

Posted by kdawson
from the neurons-must-be-slowing-down dept.
Pickens writes "Paleontologists recently discovered the world's oldest brain nestled within a 300-million-year-old fish fossil of one of the extinct relatives of modern ratfishes, also known as 'host sharks' or chimaeras. These chimaera relatives, called iniopterygians, represented bizarre beasts that sported massive skulls with huge eye sockets, shark-like teeth in rows, tails with clubs, huge pectoral fins that were placed almost on their backs, and bone-like spikes or hooks tipping the fins. The brain shows details such as a large vision lobe and optic nerve stretching to the proper place on the braincase, which fits with the fish's large eye sockets. The ear canals of the extinct fish only exist on a horizontal plane so the fish could only detect side-to-side movements, and not up or down. 'There is nothing like this known today; it is really bizarre,' said John Maisey, paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. 'But now that we know that brains might be preserved in such ancient fossils, we can start looking for others. We are limited in information about early vertebrate brains, and the evolution of the brain lies at the core of vertebrate history.'"
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The 300 Million Year Old Brain

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