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The Arc protein in the brain that is critical for memory consolidation started as a virus molecule millions of years ago.

Neuroscience
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Makes me wonder if there will ever be another virus that launches humanity to the next step of neurological capability.

that's a very cool thought.

That's almost the same basis as quite a few horror games/movies. Resident Evil and Deadspace come to mind.

Herpes

Toxoplasmosis changes people to like cats more. Does that count as the next step?

the mitochondria in our cells originated as bacteria that our ancient ancestors’ cells absorbed

I thought this was interesting

Yeah it's pretty cool that this is probably how eukaryotes came to be. The same goes for chloroplasts actually, if you wanna read more about it, the theory is called the endosymbiotic theory: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbiogenesis .

Thanks for that. They think this started happening 1.5 billion years ago. Why does that seem so relatively recent?

Because life is approx 3.7 billion years old?

Precisely

Yeah, they even reproduce seperately, with their own dna, within cells! So do chloroplasts!

So the matrix was right, in a way

14 points·3 months ago

Maybe we are just one big virus

You’re probably right

Well, we are a mass of microorganisms working together to function as one body.

So... yes!

I mean, depending on your definition of a virus anything could be a virus.

Very wise.

To an extent. Over the years viruses have embedded themselves into and/or altered our DNA. Most people have around 8% of their DNA altered this way. We wouldn't be the same without it, though it's really cool to see something so specific as memory consolidation being a direct result.

nothing infuriates me quite like sensationalized titles in science reporting

All Your Memories Are Stored by One Weird, Ancient Molecule

seriously?

What does this mean for other animals? Especially those that lived before this occurred?

Humans didn't exist when this occurred, so the animal that this happened to is our ancestor, and possibly the ancestor of other non-human animals.

No I understand all that. I mean, there are plenty of other species that still exist from before this occurred in our own ancestors. Alligators for example. How would their brains be affected?

Ah yeah good point. My understanding is that the researchers suspect that this or something similar has happened multiple times across multiple species, including Drosophila species.

So how exactly does this help or further medicine or some other meaningful human activity?

We don't know. It COULD lead to incredible things but most all discoveries are "meaningless" in math and science at the time of discovery. That life changing mega-important super study rarely happens; when it does it is only made possible by the thousands of pages of knowledge that came before.

Are you trying to say the cliffs of progression are built on the motes of small discoveries and its only when you look from a distance can you see the actual leap it takes to get there?

I am far too high to read that comment, signing off.

Something like that.

I like to look at technology like biological evolution; it's a punctuated equilibrium, small discoveries continuing steadily punctuated by massive changes when some groups suddenly connect small innocuous discoveries in new ways to bring great change.

It helps us better understand the biochemical processes involved in memory consolidation. This could potentially lead to better understandings of diseases in which memory is impaired. But it's also valuable in its own right.

It's obviously too early to tell, but if it's anything similar to our discovery that bacteria play a very big part in the maintenance of our bodies and guts, then this will definitely help us understand how our brain works and how to deal with brain-related deficiencies and diseases!

Understanding our origins is a meaningful human activity.

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