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October 11 2012
Your everyday cockroach might not seem terribly intelligent. But new fossil evidence from 520 million years ago suggests that this insidious insect might have had some surprisingly smart early ancestors.
Cockroaches and other insects belong to a group called the arthropods, which arose some 540 million years ago. A new Chinese fossil is yielding new insights into how the arthropod brain evolved and shows that within the first 20 million years of the groupís emergence, the arthropod brain had already become surprisingly advanced. The new findings are based on a three-inch-long fossil arthropod known as Fuxianhuia protensa, found in what is now Chinaís Yunnan Province and were described online October 10 in Nature (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group).
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