Evolutionary discovery to rewrite textbooks about multi-cellular animal origins

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https://phys.org/news/2019-06-evolutiona...books.html

INTRO: Scientists at The University of Queensland have upended biologists' century-old understanding of the evolutionary history of animals. Using new technology to investigate how multi-celled animals developed, their findings revealed a surprising truth.

Professor Bernie Degnan said the results contradicted years of tradition. "We've found that the first multicellular animals probably weren't like the modern-day sponge cells, but were more like a collection of convertible cells," Professor Degnan said. "The great-great-great-grandmother of all cells in the animal kingdom, so to speak, was probably quite similar to a stem cell. This is somewhat intuitive as, compared to plants and fungi, animals have many more cell types, used in very different ways—from neurons to muscles—and cell-flexibility has been critical to animal evolution from the start."

The findings disprove a long-standing idea: that multi-celled animals evolved from a single-celled ancestor resembling a modern sponge cell known as a choanocyte. (MORE)
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