A bold claim from Pam Weintraub at Aeon:
The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself
The ctenophore was already known for having a relatively advanced nervous system; but these first experiments by Moroz showed that its nerves were constructed from a different set of molecular building blocks – different from any other animal – using ‘a different chemical language’, says Moroz: these animals are ‘aliens of the sea’.
If Moroz is right, then the ctenophore represents an evolutionary experiment of stunning proportions, one that has been running for more than half a billion years. This separate pathway of evolution – a sort of Evolution 2.0 – has invented neurons, muscles and other specialised tissues, independently from the rest of the animal kingdom, using different starting materials.
This animal, the ctenophore, provides clues to how evolution might have gone if not for the advent of vertebrates, mammals and humans, who came to dominate the ecosystems of Earth. It sheds light on a profound debate that has raged for decades: when it comes to the present-day face of life on Earth, how much of it happened by pure accident, and how much was inevitable from the start?More.
A friend sent this item, noting, “We have no idea what accounts for intelligence, let alone consciousness, but we are told that nature can repeat it. Good to know.”
Does it make any difference that nature has never in fact repeated itself with repect to intelligence? It;s hardly as if intelligence wouldn’t be useful.
See also: Researchers: The sponge is the oldest animal phylum after all
Genome map shows comb jellies had separate course of evolution from other animals
Comb jelly DNA sequence offers “unintuitive facts” about evolution…
Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?
Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?