Sebé-Pedrós et al.2 report that two transcription factors, Myc and Brachyury, control similar sets of genes in animals and in a close relative, Capsaspora owczarzaki. This indicates that key gene-regulatory networks evolved before the origin of animals (indicated by the blue line) and were later co-opted for animal development. By contrast, long-range gene-regulatory elements called enhancers are not found in Capsaspora, but have been found in Nematostella, an animal that branched off early in evolutionary history. Thus, enhancers might be animal-specific (time window over which the evolution of long-range gene regulation might have occurred is indicated in red). A full understanding of how the animal gene-regulatory landscape evolved will require analyses of other early-branching animals such as sponges and Ctenophora (comb jellies), and other close relatives of animals, such as Choanoflagellata, in which gene regulation has not yet been studied (marked *).