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Re: Rearranging the branches of the Tree of Life...



From the article that Guy linked to (at http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/2007-08/07-110.html):

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The study, which appears in /Nature,/ settles some long-standing debates about the relationships between major groups of animals and offers up a few surprises.

The big shocker: Comb jellyfish – common and extremely fragile jellies with well-developed tissues – appear to have diverged from other animals even before the lowly sponge, which has no tissue to speak of. This finding calls into question the very root of the animal tree of life, which traditionally placed sponges at the base.

“This finding suggests either that comb jellies evolved their complexity independently from other animals, or that sponges have become greatly simplified through the course of evolution. If corroborated by other types of evidence, this would significantly change the way we think about the earliest multicellular animals,” said Dunn, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown.

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Fascinating. Of course, there's a third possibility that hasn't been mentioned.....

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Colin McHenry
Computation Biomechanics Research Group http://www.compbiomech.com/
School of Engineering (Mech Eng)
University of Newcastle
NSW 2308

t: +61 2 4921 8879