The network of nerves joining our eyes to our brains is complicated. Researchers have just proven that it evolved a lot earlier than previously believed, thanks to an unexpected reason – the garfish.
Ingo Braasch of the Michigan State University has helped an international team of researchers prove that the connection scheme was already present in ancient fish at least 450 million years ago, making it 100 million years older than previously thought.
“It’s the first time for me that one of our publications literally changes the textbook that I am teaching with,” Braasch said, as an assistant professor from the Department of Integrative Biology in the College of Natural Science.
The work was posted in the journal Science on April 8, and it means that the type of eye-brain connection formed before animals existing on the land. The existing theory said that the connection first evolved in terrestrial creatures. From there, it made its way on into humans, where scientists hypothesized that it helps with depth perception and 3D vision.
That work, which was conducted by researchers from France’s Inserm, public research organization, did more than reshaping our theory of the past. It also implies future health analysis/research.
Analyzing animal models is a valuable way for researchers to learn extra information about health and disease, but drawing pertinent connections to human conditions can be tricky at times.
“Modern fish, they don’t have this type of eye-brain connection,” Braasch explained. “That’s one of the reasons that people thought it was a new thing in tetrapods.”
Researchers hope that future analysis will help clarify the situation furthermore and find a definitive answer for the situation.
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