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Re: Rearranging the branches of the Tree of Life...
From the article that Guy linked to (at
The study, which appears in /Nature,/ settles some long-standing debates
about the relationships between major groups of animals and offers up a
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.
Fascinating. Of course, there's a third possibility that hasn't been
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