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Fish eyes shed insight into evolution of the connection between eyes and brain

New research suggests the network of nerves linking the eyes and the brain is 100 million years older than previously thought

fish eye
Pixabay/ Guillaume1966
Examining the eyes of gar fish has helped researchers to develop new insight into the evolution of the network of nerves connecting the eyes to the brain.

The findings, published in Science, highlight that this connection was present in the eyes of ancient fish at least 450 million years ago.

The research also supports the idea that this network of nerves appeared in fish before it developed in the eyes of animals living on land.

Zebrafish are commonly studied by scientists to gain insight into the human eye.

However, an advantage of studying gar fish is that they evolved slower than zebrafish, so they have more in common with the last common ancestor between fish and humans.

Alain Chédotal, director of research at Inserm and a group leader of the Vision Institute in Paris, highlighted that the study is “the tip of the iceberg.”

Ingo Braasch, of Michigan State University, highlighted: "We're finding more and more that many things that we thought evolved relatively late are actually very old.”