From Douglas Fox at Aeon:
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.
Current orthodoxy insists that evolution is random, purposeless, and unguided, but if Moroz is right, that’s unlikely. Still barely tenable, surrounded by huge edifices of casuistry, but unlikely.
Mind you, we have no idea how consciousness arose anyhow. See Post-modern science: The illusion of consciousness sees through itself
See also: Genome map shows comb jellies had separate course of evolution from other animals
Comb jelly DNA sequence offers “unintuitive facts” about evolution…
What can we hope to learn about animal minds?
What the fossils told us in their own words