Worms thinking like humans?


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Since we have been talking about worms in class I thought this article was somewhat relevant and of course interesting. In humans, the cerebral cortex is the part of the brain responsible for creative and analytical thinking. New research has shown that something very similar to the cerebral cortex appears in an ancient worm: the marine ragworm. A researcher at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Detlev Arendt said, "You can say that the topography is so similar that the human and worm must come from the same common ancestor." As part of a study, cellular profiling was used that had astonishing results. The profiling showed that when a molecular footprint was taken in the parts of the ragworms brain ( known as mushroom bodies) the footprint was extremely similar to that of the cerebral cortex. The question is.. what is this part of the brain doing and what is it capable of doing?
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4 Comments

Lauren - excellent post. Can you give us a link/ref to where that came from?

This is very close to issue one of the issues I imagine Professor Victoria Braithwaite when she talks about her book 'Do Fish Feel Pain?' (scheduled for October 19 and 21st).


I have read that 10% of human genes are clearly related to particular genes in the fly and the worm. And we already know that the overall DNA sequence similarity between humans and chimpanzees is about 99%. In my point of view that worms are already one of the most distant relatives of human. If worms and human come from the common ancester, isn't that mean that all the animals are from the common ancester?

Hi - this sounds both groovy and astonishing - I will have to go and look the details up before we meet in class in October. What's slightly odd about this is that very few vertebrates (animals with a backbone) have a cerebral cortex (the crinkly bit that makes our own brains look so distinctive). So why should worms and humans have something in common that seems to be missing in fish, frogs and lizards? Curious... I'll let you know if I find more out.

Great topic - and something we'll certainly be tackling in my classes investigating whether fish have emotions, and whether they can feel pain and suffer from it.

I think 10% is way too low

Indeed, all animals do come from a common ancestor. That's what defines them as animals. All life comes from a single ancestor

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