An international team of scientists have studied the fossil of a lobopodian, a small extinct arthropod with a segmented trunk and multiple short stubby legs.  The fossil has been named Cardiodictyon catenulum and is dated as 525 million years old. 

Using sophisticated scanning techniques the researchers were able to identify the creature’s brain.  Nicholas Strausfeld of University of Arizona, who led the study commented: “To our knowledge, this is the oldest fossilized brain we know of, so far.”  The brain had three sections, two associated with head appendages and one associated with the front end of its digestive system. 

The researchers compared the brain with living and fossil arthropods and they also studied patterns of gene expression for forming brains in living arthropods.  According to University of Arizona News the researchers concluded “a shared blueprint of brain organization has been maintained from the Cambrian until today.”  

Frank Hirth of Kings College London, one of the researchers, explained: “By comparing known gene expression patterns in living species we identified a common signature of all brains and how they are formed.”  He went on to say: “We realized that each brain domain and its corresponding features are specified by the same combination of genes, irrespective of the species we looked at.  This suggested a common genetic ground plan for making a brain.”

References: University of Arizona 24 November 2022; Science Alert 28 November 2022; Science 24 November 2022, doi: 10.1126/science.abn6264

Editorial Comment: If this is the oldest known fossil brain, and it is so similar to present day arthropods it is evidence that arthropod brains have always been brains, and have functioned as such right from the start.

Notice the references to processes that involved forward planning – blueprint, genetic ground plan. It is not just enough to have the genes for a brain – it also takes the right gene expression, i.e. which genes are turned on and off, and for how long, and most importantly, which combination of genes must be turned on together. Even though the standard story is that brains evolved by chance random mutations, the actual research shows that forming a brain takes plan and purpose. Genes themselves are information, but there is further layer of information involved in organising genes before a useful structure like a brain, even a simple one possessed by this small invertebrate, can be formed and function in association with other parts of the animal’s body.

This study of fossil and living arthropod brains reveals exactly what you would expect from reading Genesis, which tells us that God made whole fully functioning organisms right from the start, and they have reproduced after their kind with the fully functioning brains ever since, although some, like this lobopodian, have died out.

Creation Research News 7 December 2022

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