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Fossilized brain case, found in the old, insect-like creatures

A new Alalcomenaeus fossil in the western part of the united states of america that contains the remnants of a system (“black spots”). (Credit: Ortega-Hernández et al. 2019)

Black spots are found in the fossils of 500-million-year-old, bug-like creatures could have been preserved in very good, balanced brain. The fossil find could contribute to the establishment of a heated scholarly controversy as to the rest, the question of whether the brain could be fossilized.

Scientists have discovered it even marks in the fossil record of the arthropods, Alalcomenaeus, is an animal that shares his home with a modern, insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. The animals that lived during the Cambrian period, which occurred approximately 543 million to 490 million years ago), and had a tough frame that fossilized well. However, the soft tissue of the creature, the brain and the nerves, are often due and hence they disappeared from the fossil record.

Now, in a new study, which was published Dec. 11 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, describes not one, but two of the Alalcomenaeus fossil record, complete with a brain and their accessories as well.

“What we have to deal with it in the fossil record, it is of particular circumstances. This is not a common practice, this is a super, super rare,” said co-author Javier Ortega-Hernández, a vertebrate paleobiologist at the University of Harvard and the curator of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. Previously, paleontologists have identified one or more of Alalcomenaeus specimen is thought to have a neural tissue, but the discovery was met with skepticism. With two copies in hand, scientists can now, with confidence, that the nervous tissue may in fact be the fossils, found in the exceptional Cambrian arthropods in the fossil record, Ortega-Hernández said.

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Long-standing debate

In addition to Ortega-Hernández and his team, with only a handful of researchers have reported finding fossils of the adrenal gland, in the Cambrian period, arthropods. In a 2012 paper, researchers describe the first evidence of a fossilized arthropod brain, and a little creature called Fuxianhuia protensa. Although it’s been widely covered in the media, the report that the critics loved.

“They said,” Nonsense, nonsense,'” said Nicholas Strausfeld, a regents professor in the department of neurology at the University of Arizona and co-author of the 2012 study, as well as a number of people in the brain, as in the arthropods. Some paleontologists have argued that, based on our understanding of how animals decay, and the colored copies are Strausfeld and others have been excavated, which could not contain any nerve tissue, Strausfeld said. Some have theorized that the brain has spots, it must be a strange fluke of fossilization, or sand beds and the bacteria, known as biofilms.

But now, a new study conducted by Ortega-Hernández and his colleagues serves as “a really nice validation of the work,” Strausfeld told Live Science. “He’s calm on the a lot of concerns that people have.”

In their study, Ortega-Hernández and his co-authors have discovered a new Alalcomenaeus fossil buried in Utah, in an area of the geologic depression known as the American Great Basin. The authors found a symmetric spots along the creature’s midline, which appeared to be the nervous system, the structures to be found in some modern arthropods, such as horseshoe crabs, spiders, and scorpions. “The nervous system of the intestine, the kind of cross each other, and that’s really funky, but often with non these days,” Ortega-Hernández told Live Science.

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The patches are also contained detectable levels of carbon, which is an important element in the adrenal gland. The dark patches are also attached to the animal’s face, such as might be expected for nervous system tissue. After checking all of these criteria, Ortega-Hernández said that he could rely on the report of finding of fossils of the adrenal gland in the new specimen.

But, just to double-check their findings, the authors also investigated a second, Alalcomenaeus fossil-of-the-American-Great Basin. Originally excavated in the 1990s, in the sample, with similar spots, and a carbon track in the new fossil. What’s more, both the Great Basin fossils, the adapted descriptions from a different sample, that is Strausfeld found in China. All three fossils were found buried in the equivalent of deposits, which indicates that it is a unique preservative may have been their brains to fossilize, Ortega-Hernández said.

The counter

Even though Ortega-Hernández and his colleagues checked and double-checked their work, and to the authors, “have, in general, to be cautious about claiming to have found a real fossil brains,” Jianni Liu, a professor at the Beginning of the Life of the Institute, in the Department of Geology at Northwest University in Xi’an, China, told Science in an e-mail. She argued that the race of staining is seen in Cambrian fossils that may be in a somewhat random effect on the decay process in the place of the remains of the human brain.

By 2018, the study, She and her colleagues surveyed over 800 fossil specimens, and found that it is almost a 10% reduction in black spots on the head of the region. The authors reviewed previous studies of the animal’s decline, and it was found that the adrenal gland has a tendency to decay quickly, but are as well able to stay “in the production of these so-called biofilms as a greeting [of spots], there is a little part of the nervous system,” She wrote.

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Several paleontologists, including Strausfeld, pointed out that She failed to examine the record and the cambrian explosion, which reportedly the brain, and the lack of primary evidence, and marked a “serious failure” in this study. What’s more, it’s, to ensure She did a study of asymmetric blotches in place of the balanced ones, which means that they should not be interpreted as a brain injury, anyway, Strausfeld said.

In addition, the studies of the decay is often a measure of tissue breakdown in the water, and buried the fossils to interact with a wide variety of chemical substances are transported in the sediment around them, Ortega-Hernández said. For example, some studies have suggested that a combination of clay, water and a jump-start to a “chemical tanning” process which hardens the soft tissues in the body, which is comparable with the action of certain chemical substances, in order to be able to convert a smooth cow hide leather, Ortega-Hernández said.

More work needs to be done in order to shed light on the role of sediments in fossil preservation, but for now it is sufficient evidence to suggest that the arthropods continues to be placed under intense pressure to solidify over the course of time, Strausfeld said. The brain and the nerves of the animal in the flat, in the process, and because the nerve tissue that contains a lot of fat, and the structures to repel water and resistance against the degradation,” he said.

In spite of the evidence in their favor, Ortega-Hernández, Strausfeld and their colleagues, it may be necessary to dig up a lot more non-brain of bits-is to convince the nay-sayers that the old brain will be able to fossilize.

“We appreciate the co-authors of the efforts of the righteous, and their results are as real as the adrenal gland, but remain sceptical at first, as the data are collected from only two of the fossil record,” She said. “The new information is always welcome, but, as we have already mentioned, we would be more convinced if the anatomical characteristics are published in a consistent form across the different instances are independent.”

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Originally published on Live Science.

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