520-Million-Year-Old Fossil With Intact Nervous System Found In China (Video)

March 2, 2016 Updated: March 2, 2016

Fossils have provided scientists with a wealth of information about early Earth dwellers, and insights into how the planet’s creatures have developed since.

An international team of researchers recently studied a very rare and significant find dating back some 520 million years. The fossils were dug up in southern China and belong to Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis, a shrimp-like crustacean, but what is truly remarkable about them is how much of the creature’s central nervous system remains. Immediately visible is the long, ventral cord.

Microscopic analysis revealed a bevy of nerve clusters, which were ultimately confirmed to be ganglia. In addition to being among the oldest and most complete examples of such ever found, the specimen is providing valuable information about how the nervous system has developed over time.

Members of the team intend to continue examining the extraordinary fossils as well as others found in the same region in hopes of filling the gaps existing in the timeline of arthropod history and evolution.