World's First Animal Was A Comb Jelly Not Sponge

Posted: Apr 11 2017, 11:38am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
World's First Animal was a Comb Jelly Not Sponge
Comb Jelly. Photo Credit: Stefan Siebert/Brown University via Gizmodo
  • Scientists were Wrong About Primordial Sponges since Jellyfish were the First Animals

It seems that the scientists were wrong about primordial sponges since it is in fact jellyfish that were the first marine animals on our planet.

When the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants came out for the first time in 1999, its creator happened to be not only a cartoonist but a marine biology teacher as well. Yet it seems he took a wrong tack on the whole question of marine evolution.

Since the past ten years or so, a war of words and ideas has been going on between two camps of zoologists. Which animal was the first one to inhabit the oceans of the planet earth? The choice lay between sponges and jellyfish.

Some had said with a definite nod of the head that it was sponges. Others had taken the side of the jellyfish having gotten there first. The evolution of the animal kingdom was at stake here.

The way the nervous system, digestive tract and many other primitive organs of these simple organisms took shape over the eons was what it was all about. Now though a team of researchers has come up with a method that places jellyfish as the original organisms. This can be said to be the case with a lot of surety.

The phylogeny behind this science shows that the tree of life is squarely and heavily stacked in favor of the amorphous jellyfish as the very first creatures to inhabit the ancient seas and oceans of the world.

They had a specific name. They were called comb jellies. The methodology and its results were published in an online journal recently.

Until recently, scientists organized the tree of life based upon complexity as the chief driving motor of the evolutionary process. Since sponges were very simple organisms, they were automatically taken to be the oldest.

Yet when the genomic revolution got underway, this perspective began to change. The information regarding the DNA of various organisms made the very way science and scientists saw everything change in a jiffy.

When this bonanza of information was applied to evolution, the result was a novel field called phylogenomics. In 2008, for the first time, comb jellies were labeled as the first organisms.

The controversy surrounding this statement began to heat up. Improvements in analytical tools led to the current method which is correct upto a margin of 95%. The 5% chances of error are negligible to say the least.

The genes were studied across many species and finally a resolution was reached. Comb jellies were the original inhabitants of the earth and that was the final verdict.

The results of this discovery were published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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