Scientists run a computational model of evolution and discover the originator of animal life is far more complex than previously thought
Much like the way cosmologists and physicists theorize about the origins of the universe by making extrapolations about the past with data from today, so too do evolutionary biologists about the origins of life. And a new study funded by the National Science Foundation has turned up a surprising result about one of the earliest origins. The relatively simple sponge has long been thought to have been the first divergence on the animal tree of life. But by feeding a tremendous amount of data on fossils and living organisms into a high-powered computational model, the authors of the study discovered an even earlier split: that of the comb jelly.