Although the common descent of all life has been widely accepted since Darwin's time, new research occasionally provides us with arresting reminders of the unity of evolutionary history. Recent papers by Arendt et al. and Panda et al. provide one such reminder. They illustrate that the two classes of animal photoreceptors, ciliary and rhabdomeric photoreceptors, are likely to share an ancient common ancestor and have been evolving in parallel since their duplication over 600 million years ago.