Cambrian explosion News

Fossilized embryos from over half a billion years ago (Cambrian era)

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Cambrian embryo fossil/Broce et al.

The Cambrian Period is a time when most phyla of marine invertebrates first appeared in the fossil record. Also dubbed the “Cambrian explosion,” fossilized records from this time provide glimpses into evolutionary biology when the world’s ecosystems rapidly changed and diversified. Most fossils show the organisms’ skeletal structure, which may or may not give researchers accurate pictures of these prehistoric organisms. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found rare, fossilized embryos they believe were undiscovered previously. Their methods of study may help with future interpretation of evolutionary history.

Any guesses what they’ll find?

“Something obviously went wrong in these fossils,” Schiffbauer said. “Our Earth has a pretty good way of cleaning up after things die. Here, the cells’ self-destructive mechanisms didn’t happen, and these soft tissues could be preserved. While studying the fossils we collected, we found over 140 spherically shaped fossils, some of which include features that are reminiscent of division stage embryos, essentially frozen in time.”

The fossilized embryos the researchers found were significantly smaller than other fossil embryos from the same time period, suggesting they represent a yet undescribed organism. Additional research will focus on identifying the parents of these embryos, and their evolutionary position. More.

Here’s the abstract (paywall):

Fossilized animal embryos from lower Cambrian rocks provide a rare opportunity to study the ontogeny and developmental biology of early animals during the Cambrian explosion. This paper reports possible animal embryos, along with sponge spicules, hyolithelminths, and linguliformean brachiopods, from the upper Shuijingtuo Formation limestone (Cambrian Stage 3) at Changyang, Hubei Province, South China. This limestone unit has carbonate carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions similar to the upper Shuijingtuo limestone in the Yangtze Gorges area. The Shuijingtuo embryo fossils were exposed by physical fracturing, extracted with acetic acid maceration, and observed in thin sections. They were examined using light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopic elemental mapping, and micro-focus X-ray computed tomography. Most of them are poorly preserved, with a phosphatic envelope (interpreted as a chorion or fertilization envelope) surrounding sparitic calcite. In some specimens, a polygonal pattern is present on the surface, and these are interpreted as multicelled blastula embryos. In others, sets of grooves are present on the surface of a calcitic spheroidal structure, presumably representing the calcitic interior within the chorion; these grooves are superficially similar to annulations of Markuelia embryos, but their biological significance is unknown. Although their phylogenetic and taxonomic placement is largely unconstrained, the Shuijingtuo animal embryos indicate that chorions are taphonomically more robust and are selectively phosphatized. Embryos within the chorions, on the other hand, can be completely lost or entirely replaced by calcite, with only poorly preserved surficial structures. This style of preservation can be explained by a taphonomic switch from early phosphatization to later calcitization. This study illustrates the importance of combining physical fracturing with widely used acid digestion methods in the study of calcitized animal embryos, and it alludes to the possibility that many empty phosphatic vesicles recovered by acid digestion from Cambrian carbonates may be fossilized chorions. – Jesse Broce, James D. Schiffbauer, Kriti Sen Sharma, Ge Wang, and Shuhai Xiao. Possible Animal Embryos from the Lower Cambrian (Stage 3) Shuijingtuo Formation, Hubei Province, South China. Journal of Paleontology, April 2014

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7 Replies to “Fossilized embryos from over half a billion years ago (Cambrian era)

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    The Significance of Sponge Embryos – Dr. Stephen Meyer: Darwin’s Dilemma – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPs8E7y0ySs

  2. 2
    awstar says:

    “Something obviously went wrong in these fossils,” Schiffbauer said. “Our Earth has a pretty good way of cleaning up after things die. Here, the cells’ self-destructive mechanisms didn’t happen, and these soft tissues could be preserved. While studying the fossils we collected, we found over 140 spherically shaped fossils, some of which include features that are reminiscent of division stage embryos, essentially frozen in time.”

    Is he saying that something must have already evolved to perfection 500 million years ago if now we look back and declare something went wrong? Any chance they might conclude very rapid burial of an organism that started out perfectly designed?

  3. 3
    tjguy says:

    The preservation of soft tissue is now a common occurrence. It no longer surprises anyone. But it should. To get a fossil, especially one of exquisite preservation, or one of soft tissue, rapid burial with no exposure to these decay processes is a requirement. Most fish float when they die and the process of decay is rapid. Land animals don’t stand a chance of fossilization without rapid burial. The fact that most fossils worldwide are found in sedimentary rock is indicative of a water burial. Maybe the old geologists were right! Maybe there was a worldwide flood that buried most of the fossils we find. It’s pretty hard to explain all these fossils otherwise.

  4. 4
    tjguy says:

    http://www.icr.org/article/805.....m=facebook

    original, pliable, marine worm tube tissue found in Pre-Cambrian fossils.

    Publishing in The Journal of Paleontology, a trio of European researchers described, in detail, delicate fossil casings, manufactured by beard worms long ago. The worms were quickly buried and locked in rock like a natural time capsule. The chitin-containing worm tube fossils look the same as those made by modern worms of the same type, complete with high-tech structural cross-layering.2

    The study authors described the worm wall as still “flexible, as shown by its soft deformation.” And just to be clear, they wrote, “The body wall of S. cambriensis [fossil worm] comprises a chitin-structural protein composite.”

    Fresh-looking material like this soft chitin and its associated proteins should not cause researchers to merely doubt the worm fossils’ 551 million year-old age assignment, but to utterly reject it.

    ….

    The idea that chitin or any unaltered biological material—soft tissue that has not yet decayed—can last longer than a million years does not have any experimental support. What decay rate measurements back the claim that soft tissues can last for half a billion years? The still-flexible tube tissue of this lowly ancient marine worm matches well with the relatively recent Flood explanation—a worldwide event that buried these sea floor worms beneath hundreds of feet of sediments.

    References

    Moczydlowska, M., F. Estall, and F. Foucher. 2014. Microstructure and Biogeochemistry of the Organically Preserved Ediacaran Metazoan Sabellidites. The Journal of Paleontology. 88 (2): 224-239.

    How in the world could these fossils be over a half billion years old?!!!

    The only way that is possible is if one is committed to an old earth paradigm!

    Secularists too have faith generated by their paradigm.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    tjguy:

    How in the world could these fossils be over a half billion years old?!!!

    The only way that is possible is if one is committed to an old earth paradigm!

    Even if one is committed to a young earth paradigm they could still be over half a billion years old.

  6. 6
    tjguy says:

    I see. That’s fine if you want to believe this type of thing is possible, but I’m more interested in evidence than belief on this point.

    Can you explain how this is scientifically possible?

    And more importantly, is there any experimental evidence for your explanation?

    And Mung, a half billion years does not fit into a young earth paradigm. That’s why we call it a young earth paradigm.

  7. 7
    tjguy says:

    ICR’s take on this: http://www.icr.org/article/8059/

    Still Soft after Half a Billion Years?

    by Brian Thomas, M.S. *

    Original soft tissue fossils are revolutionizing our understanding of how and when fossils formed. Secular researchers have described dozens of them over the years, from mummified skin and hemoglobin to dried up retinas—all in rock layers designated at least tens of millions of years old.1 The science of tissue decay does not permit these long ages, calling into question the “age” of the most recent discovery: original, pliable, marine worm tube tissue found in Pre-Cambrian fossils.

    Publishing in The Journal of Paleontology, a trio of European researchers described, in detail, delicate fossil casings, manufactured by beard worms long ago. The worms were quickly buried and locked in rock like a natural time capsule. The chitin-containing worm tube fossils look the same as those made by modern worms of the same type, complete with high-tech structural cross-layering.2

    First, the study authors described what did not happen to these fossil worm casings, which were not mineralized at all. The scientists’ research ruled out preservation by various means of “mineralization”—where minerals take the place of original biological material. Silicification, phosphatization, carbonization, pyritization, phyllosilicate metamorphism, and apatite permineralization all are processes known to contribute to fossilization in other instances—but not in the case of these worm sheaths.

    According to the Paleontology report, “Minerals have not replicated any part of the soft tissue and the carbonaceous material of the wall is primary [not replaced], preserving the original layering of the wall, its texture, and fabrics.” The paper included electron micrographs of some of those fabrics’ fossilized fibers.2

    The study authors described the worm wall as still “flexible, as shown by its soft deformation.” And just to be clear, they wrote, “The body wall of S. cambriensis [fossil worm] comprises a chitin-structural protein composite.”2

    Fresh-looking material like this soft chitin and its associated proteins should not cause researchers to merely doubt the worm fossils’ 551 million year-old age assignment, but to utterly reject it. However, unless secularists pay homage to the Geologic Time Scale’s age designations for characteristic rock layers, their work would almost certainly fail to be accepted as “scientific.”

    The idea that chitin or any unaltered biological material—soft tissue that has not yet decayed—can last longer than a million years does not have any experimental support.1,3 What decay rate measurements back the claim that soft tissues can last for half a billion years? The still-flexible tube tissue of this lowly ancient marine worm matches well with the relatively recent Flood explanation—a worldwide event that buried these sea floor worms beneath hundreds of feet of sediments.

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