The Secrets Hiding in the Simplest Animal Brains

 

The Secrets Hiding in the Simplest Animal Brains

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With eight separate, flexible plates of shell held together by a skirt of muscle called a girdle, chitons look a bit like armored pebbles, ready for battle. The marine mollusks aren’t actually suited for action. They spend most of their time stuck in place, suctioned to rocks in the intertidal zone. While they’re clinging, their radula, a sort of tongue barbed with scores of sharp “teeth,” scrapes algae and other food from the surface. For chitons, that’s about as exciting as it gets.

They might seem simple, uncomplicated, even boring, but Lauren Sumner-Rooney, an evolutionary biologist at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, thinks that reputation is a little unfair. “Even things that we’ve considered very, very simple,” she says, “may have a lot more going on.”