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Were We Sponges or Slime?

New research suggests that placozoans, amoeba-like, multicelled organisms, are ancestors to sea sponges, thought to be the most ancient ancestor of all animals, says a blog post at Discover magazine. In work published this week, scientists performed molecular phylogenetic analysis of animals from 24 taxa, generating a new tree of life that placed placozoans, sponges, and jellyfish on one line and more complex animals on another. While their work suggests that placozoans, and not sponges, were the original ancestors of all animals, critics argue that it's not exactly the case, since they are not directly related to the more complex Bilataria. Additionally, the methods used may have been flawed. "I am tired of these molecular papers that don't make sufficient controls to check the reliability of the phylogenetic inferences," says molecular phylogenist Hervé Phillippe in a story at Nature.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.