Scientists Zero In on Earth’s Original Animal

Great article about the origins of life

Scientists Zero In on Earth’s Original Animal

Sea sponges have been thought by some scientists to be the most primitive living animals, the closest living things to approximate Earth’s original animal, down at the base of the tree of life for the animal kingdom.

But the squishy things are now being pushed aside by a group of amoeba-shaped creatures called Placozoans, according to a new analysis which shows the fairly simple but still multi-cellular animals are closer to the base of the tree, researchers say.

A weirder result follows from the fact that the analysis finds that corals, jellyfish, sponges, comb jellies and Placozoans (aka the “lower” animals) evolved in parallel to “higher” animals including flatworms, insects, mollusks and chordates (which includes all animals with backbones, ranging from frogs to apes and humans).

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