Found: Oldest Brain Fossil

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Oldest fossil brain found in Kansas (Videos)

Source: American Museum of Natural History

When Alan Pradel of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris CAT scanned a 300-million-year-old fossilized iniopterygian from Kansas, he and his colleagues saw a symmetrical blob nestled within the braincase. This turned out to be the oldest brain found in fossil form, a wholly unexpected and rare discovery.

Additional scanning on the synchrotron at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France (and using a new X-Ray approach) yielded detailed information about the structure of brain, the shape of the braincase, and the nerves running between the two features. The new discovery is described with several other intact braincases—the first three-dimensional fossils from this group of extinct marine fishes—in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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