1:00pm, Monday, 9th May
Room BIG13, Ground Floor
710 Cumberland St
Associate Professor Michael Paulin
Department of Zoology, University of Otago
‘Clever Guts: Modelling the coevolution of nervous systems and extracellular digestion in Ediacaran animals’
Animals with nervous systems evolved more than 543 million years ago during the Ediacaran period. Modern animals living in remnant Ediacaran-like niches can inform computational models of Ediacaran animals that lacked nervous systems. These models have the potential to explain why and how animals with nervous systems evolved in Ediacaran ecosystems, and fundamental mechanisms of human perception and cognition. They can also account for the unexpectedly intimate connection between our guts and our brains. Many neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that affect our moods and behaviours are also metabolites of acidophilic and fermenting bacteria. Coincidence? I think not.