Ancient ancestor of vertebrates truly ‘shocking’

Most vertebrates, including humans, are descended from a common ancestor that had a sixth sense – a well-developed electroreceptive system.

A study out of Cornell University in the United States has found that 65,000 living species of vertebrate, including land animals and ray-finned fishes, are descended from the same ancestor that lived around 500 million years ago. This ancestor was likely a predatory marine fish with good eyesight, teeth and jaws and a lateral line system used to detect movement in water.

While some ray-finned fishes have retained these electrical receptors the lineage leading to reptiles, birds and mammals lost electosense.

Researchers can now use these findings to build a more comprehensive picture of what our common ancestor looked like and better understand the sensory systems of both living and fossilised animals.

Read more at Cornell University