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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

The Good News is: Your Original Ancestor was a Jellyfish...not a Sponge

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, December 13, 2013/Categories: natural history, photography

The evolutionary tree of animals has now added some very ancient roots. Research being published in Science by the National Human Genome Research Institute ( NHGRI ) has just pushed back the evolutionary biology of all animals to the first progenitor, a comb jelly. These animals first appeared in the fossil record in the Cambrian era over 500 million years ago.

According to the NHGRI announcement, the DNA researchers used whole-genome sequencing to analyze  Ctenophora  genome. They compared the order of the DNA base pairs—150 million pairs for comb jellies versus 3 billion pairs in humans—that comprise the organism's genome. Whole-genome data has been available for four of the five animal lineages—sponges, flat invertebrates, jellyfish, and animals, including humans—but Ctenophora remained the last major animal lineage for which there were no sequenced genomes.

The comb jellyresults advanced the understanding of evolution in all animal including humans. As the NHGRI director Daniel Kastner commented: "Expanding our understanding of genomes across the animal kingdom is important for gaining an understanding of evolutionary adaptation at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels. The results of our study lead to a new way of thinking about early animal evolution."


Comb Jellyfish, Ctenophora (credit: NHGRI)

You thought you were related to a sponge, now you know you came from a jellyfish. Biology textbooks can now be properly corrected by the new DNA data.

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