Six hundred million years ago, the fossil record displays the sudden appearance of intracellular detail and the 32 phyla. The "Cambrian Explosion" marks the onset of dominant aerobic life. Fossil intracellular structures are so similar to extant organisms that they were likely made with similar membrane lipids and proteins, which together provided for organisation and specialisation. While amino acids could be synthesised over 4 billion years ago, only oxidative metabolism allows for the synthesis of highly unsaturated fatty acids, thus producing novel lipid molecular species for specialised cell membranes. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) provided the core for the development of the photoreceptor, and conversion of photons into electricity stimulated the evolution of the nervous system and brain. Since then, DHA has been conserved as the principle acyl component of photoreceptor synaptic and neuronal signalling membranes in the cephalopods, fish, amphibian, reptiles, birds, mammals and humans. This extreme conservation in electrical signalling membranes despite great genomic change suggests it was DHA dictating to DNA rather than the generally accepted other way around. We offer a theoretical explanation based on the quantum mechanical properties of DHA for such extreme conservation. The unique molecular structure of DHA allows for quantum transfer and communication of π-electrons, which explains the precise depolarisation of retinal membranes and the cohesive, organised neural signalling which characterises higher intelligence.
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