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Evolution: Education and Outreach

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 427–438

First Online: 18 October 2008Received: 24 June 2008Accepted: 08 September 2008


Evidence of detailed brain morphology is illustrated and described for 400-million-year-old fossil skulls and braincases of early vertebrates placoderm fishes. Their significance is summarized in the context of the historical development of knowledge of vertebrate anatomy, both before and since the time of Charles Darwin. These ancient extinct fishes show a unique type of preservation of the cartilaginous braincase and demonstrate a combination of characters unknown in other vertebrate species, living or extinct. The structure of the oldest detailed fossil evidence for the vertebrate eye and brain indicates a legacy from an ancestral segmented animal, in which the braincase is still partly subdivided, and the arrangement of nerves and muscles controlling eye movement was intermediate between the living jawless and jawed vertebrate groups. With their unique structure, these placoderms fill a gap in vertebrate morphology and also in the vertebrate fossil record. Like many other vertebrate fossils elucidated since Darwin’s time, they are key examples of the transitional forms that he predicted, showing combinations of characters that have never been observed together in living species.

KeywordsFossils Vertebrates Brain structure Cranial nerves Eye evolution Transitional forms Charles Darwin Intelligent design  Download fulltext PDF

Autor: Gavin C. Young

Fuente: https://link.springer.com/

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