For many familiar with metazoan relationships and body plans, the hypothesis of a sister group relationship between Diploblasta and Bilateria1 comes as a surprise. One of the consequences of this hypothesis - the independent evolution of a nervous system in Coelenterata and Bilateria - seems highly unlikely to many. However, to a small number of scientists working on Metazoa, the parallel evolution of the nervous system is not surprising at all and rather a confirmation of old morphological and new genetic knowledge.2-4 The controversial hypothesis that the Diploblasta and Bilateria are sister taxa is, therefore, tantamount to reconciling the parallel evolution of the nervous system in Coelenterata and Bilateria. In this addendum to Schierwater et al.,1 we discuss two aspects critical to the controversy. First we discuss the strength of the inference of the proposed sister relationship of Diploblasta and Bilateria and second we discuss the implications for the evolution of nerve cells and nervous systems.
B Schierwater, M Eitel, W Jakob, HJ Osigus, H Hadrys, SL Dellaporta, SO Kolokotronis, R DeSalle. Concatenated analysis sheds light on early metazoan evolution and fuels a modern . Plos Biol 2009; 7: e20.