In John R. Paterson’s “Modern optics in exceptionally preserved eyes of Early Cambrian arthropods from Australia (Nature, 30 June 2011)
from Nature by, we learn of a particular, “exceptionally preserved” trilobite-like eye from South Australia that predates other known finds from 85 million years later:
The arrangement and size of the lenses indicate that these eyes belonged to an active predator that was capable of seeing in low light. The eyes are more complex than those known from contemporaneous trilobites and are as advanced as those of many living forms.
Well, that raises a question, doesn’t it? At the dawn of multicellular life, we find – not primitive fixes – but …
Then the authors deftly write,
They provide further evidence that the Cambrian explosion involved rapid innovation in fine-scale anatomy as well as gross morphology, and are consistent with the concept that the development of advanced vision helped to drive this great evolutionary event.
So they simply avoid discussion of the obvious problem by citing what sounds like a hypothesis but is actually a tautology.
Of course, the complex eyes helped drive the “great evolutionary event,” for the same reasons as – at a hockey match – the Away Team’s crowd helps fill the arena. Does anyone care to dispute it? (Abstract)
Here’s a great site on trilobite eyes.
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