A research team at the University of Tokyo says it has discovered more similarities in the way insects and mammals sense the environment through their bodies. Their findings were recently published in Science magazine.
Associate Professor Kei Ito and his team used fruit flies to study how sensory information is transmitted to their brains when the insects touch something.
It's already known that mammals and insects have common structures of nerve circuits for 4 of the 5 senses -- taste, sight, smell, and sound.
But the researchers found they also likely have in common the sense of touch, the 5th sense.
Their research showed that sensory information was conveyed to different parts of the brain when the skin of the flies was touched or a leg joint was moved.
Associate Professor Ito says that mammals and insects likely had common ancestors with brains that could perceive the 5 senses about 600 million years ago.