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It's one of biology's most-heated debates – what are the origins of animals?
Now, researchers have waded into the debate with a new study, suggesting that the humble sponge may be our earliest ancestor.
Findings - Doubt - Studies - Comb - Jellies
The findings cast doubt on previous studies, which have suggested that complex comb jellies may be the oldest lineage of living animals.
In 2008, one of the early phylogenomic studies suggested that comb jellies were the earliest members of the animal kingdom, rather than sponges.
Studies - Sponges - Comb - Jellies - Ancestors
Since then, studies have flip-flopped between whether sponges or comb jellies are our deepest ancestors.
Now, researchers from the University of Bristol have identified the cause of this flip-flop.
Researchers - Sponges - Lineage
And in doing so, the researchers believe they have revealed that sponges are the most ancient lineage.
Professor Davide Pisani, lead author of the study, said: 'The fact is, hypotheses about whether sponges or comb jellies came first suggest entirely different evolutionary histories for key...
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