Sponges Descended from Unique Ancestor

Researchers have discovered that sponges evolved from a separate ancestor than all other animals. This finding is contrary to popular thought that places a sponge-like creature as the ancient ancestor of all other animals.

Research indicates that sponges evolved from a separate ancestor than all other animals. (Photo credit:  Andrew David, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC Panama City; Lance Horn, UNCW/NURC - Phantom II ROV operator.)

Research indicates that sponges evolved from a separate ancestor than all other animals. (Photo credit: Andrew David, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC Panama City; Lance Horn, UNCW/NURC – Phantom II ROV operator.)

The three main researchers associated with this study include Herv Philippe of the Universit de Montral in Montreal, Canada, Gert Wrheide of the Ludwig-Maximillians Universistt in Munich, Germany; and Michael Manuel of the University of Paris in Paris, France. In their research, the scientists studied 128 genes from 55 different species. These species included 9 poriferans, 8 cnidarians, 3 ctenophores, and 1 placozoan. The scientists used a technique called phylogenomics. This technique uses computers to analyze and compare large datasets of gene sequences to determine evolutionary relationships. By determining evolutionary relationships, the scientists were able to develop a phylogenetic tree to show how related each animal was to another. In studying these relationships, the scientists found that poriferans developed from a separate ancestor than the other groups of animals. They also found evidence that cnidiarians and ctenophores belong to a common group.

Future research plans include determining when specific features evolved in animals. The scientists are especially interested in determining how the “genetic toolkit” necessary for the development of animal nervous systems, muscles, and sensory organs evolved.

The research was published in the April 2, 2009 edition of the journal Current Biology. The study was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft as a part of the Priority Program 1174 “Deep Metazoan Phylogeny.”

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Comments

  1. nuts

  2. Dezziee says:

    it was interesting

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