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Flatworms Are Oldest Living Ancestors To Those Of Us With Right And Left Sides, Reported In The 19 March Issue Of Science

program to create an evolutionary road map that showed the most likely relationships among the organisms. According to the results, the Acoela were the first group of organisms to split off from the radial organisms, well before the other flatworms arose in the midst of the Cambrian explosion. The scientists suggest that the Acoela should be classified in their own new phylum.

At some point during the period in which bilateral animals appeared, another important transition took place, this one involving a fundamental change in the way animals developed as embryos. Radial animals are also "diploblastic," meaning their tissues develop from two primary layers of embryonic cells. In contrast, tissues of the more complex "triploblasts" develop from three primary layers of embryonic cells. Because information from the pre-Cambrian is so sparse, researchers don't know yet the details of when or how this other change occurred-they just know that bilaterians were also triploblastic. "The finding of the Acoela well in the middle of the long branch separating diploblasts from triploblasts may be the first item to bridge the gap and to give us a better understanding of how the major body plans emerged," said Bagu.


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Contact: Gabriel Paal
gpaal@aaas.org
202-326-6421
American Association for the Advancement of Science
19-Mar-1999


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