Technology

New technology helps scientists rewrite evolutionary history


A team of scientists from the University of Queensland used a new technology to study the evolution of multi-celled animals, and uncovered something surprising in the process.


This new discovery completely disproves a centuries-old theory that suggests all multi-celled animals evolved from a single-celled ancestor called choanocyte, which is similar to a modern sponge cell.


“With multicellularity came incredible complexity, creating the animal, plant, fungi and algae kingdoms we see today.


“Biologists for decades believed the existing theory was a no-brainer, as sponge choanocytes look so much like single-celled choanoflagellates – the organism considered to be the closest living relatives of the animals,” said senior coauthor Associate Professor Sandie Degnan.


“But their transcriptome signatures simply don’t match, meaning that these aren’t the core building blocks of animal life that we originally thought they were.”


“This technology has been used only for the last few years, but it’s helped us finally address an age-old question, discovering something completely contrary to what anyone had ever proposed,” she continued.






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