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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Important cnidarian contributions to our understanding of nervous system evolution may be found in the arrangement of conducting systems and their interactions. We see multiple, diffuse systems that interact to produce specific behaviors, the compression of conducting systems into compact directional or bidirectional conduction systems, and accumulation of multiple compressed conducting systems into integrating structures like nerve rings. We even see ganglion-like rhopalia that contain bilateral and directional conducting pathways. We now know that this compression and specificity of connections is controlled by conserved sets of genetic commands similar to those found in bilateral animals, and likely in common ancestors. This gradation in centralization is only limited in a directed pathway by the unique radial symmetry of cnidarians. Based on the compression of cnidarian conducting systems into integrating centers (nerve rings and rhopalia), the primary hurdle to cephalization is body symmetry. Medusoid cnidarians possess multiple “brains” connected by conducting systems that, by necessity, are nonpolarized.

Keywords: Medusoid cnidarians, cnidarian, nervous system, rhopalia, bilateral conducting pathways, directional conducting pathways

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