520-million-year old

Scientists from the United Kingdom, China and Germany, have discovered one of the oldest and detailed fossils of the central nervous system.

The animal who had this nervous system is yet to get identified. Scientists believe that the nervous system is from a crustacean-like animal that lived more than 500 million years ago.

Surprisingly, the fossil which was discovered from Southern China has been so well preserved in the course of millions of years.

Individual nerves are even visible in this fossil, and this is for the first time that researchers are getting this much detailed information about the nervous system of that age.

It should be noted that finding soft tissue fossils is very rare, and this is one remarkable achievement from these researchers.

New findings from this fossil are expected to unveil more details regarding the evolution of nervous systems of arthropods. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Javier Ortega-Hernandez, of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology, told that this is a unique glimpse into what the nervous system of ancestors looks like.

Ortega-Hernandez also added that this is the complete example of a central nervous system from the Cambrian period. Researchers chipped away the surrounding rock around the fossil with a fine needle, and this has helped them to get the clear cut picture of the nervous system.

Scientists believe that the arthropod’s fossil which is now discovered is supposed to be that of a creature with crustacean-like heart-shaped head shield, and a long body that boasted legs of various sizes.

Unlike vertebrates, central nervous system in arthropods comprises of a condensed brain and a chain-like series of joint tissues called ganglia.

Researchers believe that more study on this fossilized nervous system will help to understand more about the evolution of arthropods.