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Insects and crustaceans ‘more alike than we thought’
Mantis shrimp.

Study could aid in the understanding of brain evolution

Shrimps, lobsters and crabs have more in common with their insect cousins than previously thought, according to new research.


Scientists at the University of Arizona found that both insects and crustaceans possess mushroom-shaped brain structures, known in insects to be required for learning, memory and negotiating complex environments.


The study, published in the journal eLife, contradicts a widely-held scientific belief that these brain structures - known as “mushroom bodies” - are absent from crustacean brains. 


"The mushroom body is an incredibly ancient, fundamental brain structure," said Nicholas Strausfeld, professor of neuroscience at the University of Arizona. “When you look across the arthropods as a group, it's everywhere."


Crustaceans and insects descend from a common ancestor that lived about half a billion years ago.

Scientists believe the misunderstanding that crustaceans do not have mushroom bodies is because of a more evolutionary “modern” group of crustaceans. They say that many lobsters and crabs in this group have brain centres that do not look anything like the insect mushroom body.

While the mushroom bodies appear more diverse than those of insects, brain analysis of crustaceans revealed that their defining neuroanatomical and molecular elements are all there.

Researchers hope the study will aid in the understanding of how brains may have evolved and what environmental conditions shaped that process. 

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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact gorgie@l-o-v-e.org.uk