An international team of scientists recently found the fossilized remains of a prehistoric clawed sea creature with a nervous system similar to modern arachnids – confirming that today's eight-legged creepers share a common ancestor dating back half a billion years. The creature is one of an extinct species called megacheirans, which literally means “giant claws.”
According to the team's findings published in the journal Nature, the fossil, discovered in China, has a spider-like brain and claws similar to those of a scorpion. Scientists have theorized that different arthropod species could have branched off from a creature much like this one, and now this detailed map of the animal's nervous system provides the proof.
"People like myself who are mad keen on creepy crawlies want to understand how very strange early arthropods relate to living ones," said Greg Edgecombe of London's Natural History Museum in London, in an interview with the BBC. "By having access to the nervous system it allows us to study the evolutionary relationships of very ancient fossils using the same kind of information that we would use for living animals."