“… the most complex animal group, the chordates, were represented at the beginning, and they did not go through a slow gradual evolution to become a chordate.”
The Darwin circus wagons should have halted there at Chengjiang and been repurposed as hot dog stands for public convenience. But too much had been invested. Paul Chien, chairman of the biology department at the University of San Franciscos explained some while back to Leadership University the significance of the Chinese Cambrian era fossils,
Chien: In some ways there are similarities between the China site and the other famous site, the Burgess Shale fauna in Canada. But it turns out that the China site is much older, and the preservation of the specimens is much, much finer. Even nerves, internal organs and other details can be seen that are not present in fossils in any other place.
RI: And I suppose many of these are probably soft-tissue marine-type animals?
Chien: Yes, including jellyfish-like organisms. They can even see water ducts in the jellyfish. They are all marine. That part of western China was under a shallow sea at the time.
He also points out that a number of previously unknown phyla were discovered, advancing the number of known phyla from 38 to 50. Far more phyla existed back then than do now, in what Stephen Jay Gould called a “reverse cone of diversity.” That is, fundamental diversity decreased instead of increasing.
RI: What information is the public hearing or not hearing about the Cambrian explosion?
[ … ]
Most textbooks will show a live tree of evolution with the groups evolving through a long period of time. If you take that tree and chop off 99 percent of it, [what is left] is closer to reality; it’s the true beginning of every group of animals, all represented at the very beginning.
Since the Cambrian period, we have only die-off and no new groups coming about, ever. There’s only one little exception cited the group known as bryozoans, which are found in the fossil record a little later. However, most people think we just haven’t found it yet; that group was probably also present in the Cambrian explosion. (June 14, 2004)
He points, for example, to Yunnanzoon:
… present in the very beginning. This genus is considered a chordate, and the phylum Chordata includes fish, mammals and man. An evolutionist would say the ancestor of humans was present then. Looked at more objectively, you could say the most complex animal group, the chordates, were represented at the beginning, and they did not go through a slow gradual evolution to become a chordate. (June 14, 2004)
You could say it, but most discussion of the subject, from the very beginning in the mid-nineteenth century has been devoted to suppressing the significance for current evolution theories of this stark, central fact. It just somehow falls down the memory hole.
Chien also reveals that he doubted Darwin on the evidence before he became a Christian. Becoming one seems to have given him a voice, not an opinion.
Hat tip: Wintery Knight