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Brain and eyes of Kerygmachela reveal protocerebral ancestry of the panarthropod head

Park, Tae-Yoon S.; Kihm, Ji-Hoon; Woo, Jusun; Park, Changkun; Lee, Won Young; Smith, M. Paul; Harper, David A.T.; Young, Fletcher; Nielsen, Arne T.; Vinther, Jakob

Brain and eyes of Kerygmachela reveal protocerebral ancestry of the panarthropod head Thumbnail


Tae-Yoon S. Park

Ji-Hoon Kihm

Jusun Woo

Changkun Park

Won Young Lee

M. Paul Smith

Fletcher Young

Arne T. Nielsen

Jakob Vinther


Recent discoveries of fossil nervous tissue in Cambrian fossils have allowed researchers to trace the origin and evolution of the complex arthropod head and brain based on stem groups close to the origin of the clade, rather than on extant, highly derived members. Here we show that Kerygmachela from Sirius Passet, North Greenland, a primitive stem-group euarthropod, exhibits a diminutive (protocerebral) brain that innervates both the eyes and frontal appendages. It has been surmised, based on developmental evidence, that the ancestor of vertebrates and arthropods had a tripartite brain, which is refuted by the fossil evidence presented here. Furthermore, based on the discovery of eyes in Kerygmachela, we suggest that the complex compound eyes in arthropods evolved from simple ocelli, present in onychophorans and tardigrades, rather than through the incorporation of a set of modified limbs.


Park, T. S., Kihm, J., Woo, J., Park, C., Lee, W. Y., Smith, M. P., …Vinther, J. (2018). Brain and eyes of Kerygmachela reveal protocerebral ancestry of the panarthropod head. Nature Communications, 9(1), Article 1019.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 15, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 9, 2018
Publication Date Mar 9, 2018
Deposit Date Mar 9, 2018
Publicly Available Date Mar 9, 2018
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number 1019


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