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Evolutionary biology

Body plans and simple brains

Genes expressed in the vertebrate brain and spinal cord show up in the surface nerve net of a closely related group of invertebrates. Could this mean that brains started out on the body surface?

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Figure 1: Protostomes and deuterostomes.
Figure 2: Saccoglossus embryo showing expression patterns for two of the 22 genes examined by Lowe et al.1.

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Lacalli, T. Body plans and simple brains. Nature 424, 263–264 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/424263a

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