Origin of Nerves Traced to Sponges contains this predictable, indeed, seemingly obligatory line:
A new study has surprised researchers, however.
Let's get the unsurprising surprised reaction stated at the outset and go for the meat:
"We are pretty confident it was after the sponges split from trunk of the tree of life and sponges went one way and animals developed from the other, that nerves started to form," said Bernie Degnan of the University of Queensland. "What we found in sponges though were the building blocks for nerves, something we never expected to find."
This pattern has become so commonplace one is tempted to ascribe a template formula for research labeled under the front loading tab. Find trunk splits and begin a search for biological building blocks. I know. This is all predicted by mainstream evolution. Except for the surprise part. More:
"But what was really cool," he said, "is we took some of these genes and expressed them in frogs and flies and the sponge gene became functional — the sponge gene directed the formation of nerves in these more complex animals.
This is nerd heaven.