Introduction to ‘Origin and evolution of the nervous system’

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4 Scopus citations


In 1665, Robert Hooke demonstrated in Micrographia the power of the microscope and comparative observations, one of which revealed similarities between the arthropod and vertebrate eyes. Utilizing comparative observations, Saint-Hilaire in 1822 was the first to propose that the ventral nervous system of arthropods corresponds to the dorsal nervous system of vertebrates. Since then, studies on the origin and evolution of the nervous system have become inseparable from studies about Metazoan origins and the origins of organ systems. The advent of genome sequence data and, in turn, phylogenomics and phylogenetics have refined cladistics and expanded our understanding of Metazoan phylogeny. However, the origin and evolution of the nervous system is still obscure and many questions and problems remain. A recurrent problem is whether and to what extent sequence data provide reliable guidance for comparisons across phyla. Are genetic data congruent with the geological fossil records? How can we reconcile evolved character loss with phylogenomic records? And how informative are genetic data in relation to the specification of nervous system morphologies? These provide some of the background and context for a Royal Society meeting to discuss new data and concepts that might achieve insights into the origin and evolution of brains and nervous systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20150033
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1684
StatePublished - Dec 19 2015


  • Brain
  • Evolution
  • Nervous system
  • Origin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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