Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Almost Brains

Dope illustration by Jackie Ferrentino for Nautilus magazine

There’s a certain kind of jellyfish that have brains way different from our own, and which diverged a long time ago on the tree of life. They diverged so long ago, in fact, that they can really be considered to have alien brains.

I’ve been seeing this come up lately (both Nautilus and Quanta magazines). Maybe with computers, and specifically neural nets, looking more and more like the human brain. (And maybe with us finding all these exoplanets.) And certainly because these jellyfish use a decentralized neural net to do braining things. The Quanta article asks if neurons evolved twice. It makes you wonder what other ways brains can be made.

If you’ve never seen one of these in real life, please do so at your nearest aquarium, and at your soonest convenience. source


Ctenophores (Comb Jellies) also resemble cnidarians in having a decentralized nerve net rather than a brain. Genomic studies have suggested that the neurons of Ctenophora, which differ in many ways from other animal neurons, evolved independently from those of the other animals.

Circa 2016, Nautilus

2015, Quanta

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