My, how many tentacles you have! This alien looking creature is known asNematostella vectensis, or the starlet sea anemone. Like other anemones, starlets start life as free swimming larvae. They then settle into an appropriately mucky spot on the seafloor and metamorphose into their adult polyp form, seen here. Anemones lack brains, but the section of the larvae containing the sensory organs actually becomes the bulbous root end of the adult, while the other side sprouts delicate tentacles and transforms into a filter feeding mouth.
Researchers have now found that the head genes of N. vectensis, though held in what eventually becomes the animal s foot, correspond to the head genes found in the actual heads of higher animals. Humans and other brainy beasts share a common, brainless, ancestor with sea anemones that lived 600 million to 700 million years ago. The findings were released Feb. 20, 2013 in the journal PLOS Biology.