Evidence of fossilised brains in small arthropods 500 million years ago has been found

Evidence of fossilised brain tissue was found in arthropods that lived 500 million years ago according to a team of researchers. In case the confirmation comes, it would be a very important paleontological discovery because it would answer one of the most mysterious questions of paleontology: can nervous tissue, especially the brain, fossilize?

The discovery of these two fossils of Alalcomenaeus, an arthropod that lived between 543 and 490 million years ago, could help to find an answer to this question. In addition to the exoskeleton, in fact, also the soft tissues of the brain and nerves would have remained fossilized, tissues that in the vast majority of cases tend to disappear precisely because they are not hard unlike the skeleton (or teeth). Compared to bones, soft tissues degrade much earlier and therefore there is no time to start the fossilization process that leaves an impression.

In a new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research team describes the discovery of these fossil findings occurred, as explained by Javier Ortega-Hernández, a paleobiologist at Harvard University and one of the authors of the study, in exceptional circumstances.

One of the fossils, found in the Utha, has symmetrical spots along the perpendicular line of the body of the creature, spots reminiscent of those of the nervous system of some arthropods living today, including some species of crabs, spiders and scorpions. These same spots also contained good levels of carbon, a basic element of the same nervous tissue. And furthermore, these dark spots seem to be connected to the four eyes of the animal, which reminds once again to a nervous system.

The researchers then compared this fossil with two other fossils, one found in the same area and another in China, which seem to have the same traces as regards the possibility of fossilisation of brain matter.

Already in the past paleontologists had found a specimen of Alalcomenaeus for which it seemed that the fossilized imprint of the nervous tissue was also present in addition to that of the skeleton but the announcement of the discovery was greeted with a certain skepticism. Now this new discovery will give strength to the theory that also nervous tissues can fossilize at the level of footprints.

Another similar discovery had already occurred in 2012 when a team of researchers had found a fossilized Fuxianhuia protensa fingerprint that seemed to contain also the imprint of the brain.
According to some researchers, not the majority, it’s possible in fact, through a real stroke of luck, that the brain can fossilize and leave a footprint thanks to the fossilized footprints of the same bacteria that degraded it which would form a sort of biofilm.

Applying cold water is the best first approach for treating burns on children

Cooling the newly burned part of a child’s body with running water is the best method to reduce the chances of the following skin grafts and surgical procedures in general according to a new study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

This is very clearly stated by Bronwyn R. Griffin, a researcher at the Centre for Research on Children’s Health at the University of Queensland (Australia) who published the study: if a child gets burned, the first treatment should be 20 minutes of cold running water. The latter, in fact, proves to be more effective and its usefulness lasts up to three hours after the injury.

The study made use of data from children who suffered burns and who received, once they entered the emergency room, initial therapy with 20 or more minutes of cooling down with water. This initial approach reduced the likelihood of the need for a skin graft by more than 40%. In addition, this approach was linked to a reduction in the likelihood of hospitalization (by 35.8%) and a reduction in the likelihood of surgery (by 42.4%).

This is also important because healing more quickly involves a lower risk of scars remaining on the body.

The same study points out that the first treatment with running water was also better than the alternatives represented mostly by treatment with aloe, gel, butter or egg whites, for example.

“Whether you are a parent or a paramedic, it is highly recommended that you administer 20 minutes of cold running water to a child’s burn. This is the most effective way to reduce the severity of tissue damage from all thermal burns,” Griffin reports.