Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


Key points in plant evolution featured “fundamental genomic novelties”

Researchers: "This approach reveals an unprecedented level of fundamental genomic novelties in two nodes related to the origin of land plants: the first in the origin of streptophytes during the Ediacaran and another in the ancestor of land plants in the Ordovician." Stuck for what to call this, some of us would call it creationism. Read More ›

Researchers: Animal embryos evolved before animals

Well, now that Zhu mentions it, hadn’t we better be sure that there are no adult stages before we make such dramatic claims? Otherwise, what we really have is another early Ediacaran complex animal which, while a marvellous find, is not the one Darwinians would be hoping for. Read More ›

New Scientist tries to undermine Cambrian explosion

The Ediacaran creatures are fascinating predecessors to be sure. They will likely turn out to be explosions of life, just like the Cambrian, but often not clearly related to it. Read More ›

The worm that was making those tracks 551–539 million years ago may be found

The claim that the worm challenges the Cambrian explosion which followed this Ediacaran period is weird because we knew there were worms in the Ediacaran on account of the tracks (and comb jellies too) but the explosion of multi-faceted life in the Cambrian is a unique event in any case. Read More ›

Researchers: Dickinsonia (571–541 mya) could have had mouth and guts

Associate Professor Jochen Brocks commented, "These fossils comprise our best window into earliest animal evolution and are the key to understanding our own deep origins." Yes, in the sense that sudden emergence rather than a long, slow Darwinian process seems more likely all the time. Read More ›

Oldest animal turns out to be 40 million years older than 558 mya

MOVE over, Dickinsonia. This 558-million-year-old creature was named the earliest known animal last year, but New Scientist can now exclusively reveal one that existed even earlier – by more than 40 million years. (paywall) Graham Lawton, “Exclusive: 600-million-year old blobs are earliest animals ever found” at New Scientist Note: They are described at New Scientist above as “carnivorous comb jellies” but all known comb jellies are carnivorous so it will be interesting to learn more about what that “earliest known animal” was eating. Last year, we learned Intro: A strange soft-bodied sea creature that lived over half a billion years ago may have been the first animal species on Earth, fossil evidence suggests. The first large complex organisms – known Read More ›

Researchers: Ediacaran to Cambrian transition took “less than 410,000 years”

Even if these researchers are a teensy bit optimistic about their pinpoint accuracy, the pattern is clear: The history of life is becoming a field markedly less favorable to hand-waving. And note, in 410,000 years, the transition from the multicellular but simple Ediacaran life forms to the diverse Cambrian life forms is supposed to have taken place purely by natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinism). Aw, come on. Read More ›

Gunter Bechly: Dickinsonia is NOT likely an animal

Rather, he thinks, it is an unknown type of life form, which belonged to “an alien clade,” not certainly related to later life forms. Readers will recall that fats (sterols) were recently recovered from a 558 million-year-old fossil entity, Dickinsonia, which was previously uncertainly classified but is now classified as an animal as a result. Bechly writes, Although we know many well-preserved specimens of Dickinsonia, its affinities in the supposed tree of life have remained extremely controversial for more than 70 years since its description (Shu et al. 2014, Budd & Jensen 2015). This resulted in its wandering across nearly every kingdom and many phyla of life. In 1992 seven authorities among paleontologists were asked by evolutionary biologist Rudolf Raff Read More ›

Rob Sheldon: How we know the 558 mya animal Dickinsonia remains really contained fats

Recently, some readers asked whether the recent Dickinsonia fossil “fats” find from 558 mya featured cholesterol. Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon explains further: Cholesterol was not found by these researchers, nor did they make announcements of soft tissue in a fossil. What they did find were the breakdown products of cholesterol called “sterols”. Plants make phytols that break down similarly. There might be hundreds to thousands of breakdown products of these biochemicals. When these materials are run through a mass spectrometer, the device sorts them by chemical weight. Really good mass specs (like the ones I used to design for NASA) can even separate isotopes of carbon and hydrogen. Then a simple molecule like CH4 might have four or five Read More ›

Fats recovered from Ediacaran fossil, 558 mya, shows that animals then were “large,” “abundant”

Yes, you read that right and our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon explains why it was possible below. From ScienceDaily: Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) and overseas have discovered molecules of fat in an ancient fossil to reveal the earliest confirmed animal in the geological record that lived on Earth 558 million years ago. The strange creature called Dickinsonia, which grew up to 1.4 metres in length and was oval shaped with rib-like segments running along its body, was part of the Ediacara Biota that lived on Earth 20 million years prior to the ‘Cambrian explosion’ of modern animal life. … “The fossil fat molecules that we’ve found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years Read More ›

But why did the Ediacaran life forms just die out?

News from the Ediacaran era (600 – 542 million years ago), when many animals were genuinely hard to distinguish at first from plants, sharpens the question: So-called Ediacaran organisms have puzzled biologists for decades. To the untrained eye they look like fossilized plants, in tube or frond shapes up to 2 meters long. These strange life forms dominated Earth’s seas half a billion years ago, and scientists have long struggled to figure out whether they’re algae, fungi, or even an entirely different kingdom of life that failed to survive. Now, two paleontologists think they have finally established the identity of the mysterious creatures: They were animals, some of which could move around, but they were unlike any living on Earth Read More ›

Researchers: Ediacaran animals increased in size to spread their offspring rather than compete for food

From ScienceDaily: The research, led by the University of Cambridge, found that the most successful organisms living in the oceans more than half a billion years ago were the ones that were able to ‘throw’ their offspring the farthest, thereby colonising their surroundings. The results are reported in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. Prior to the Ediacaran period, between 635 and 541 million years ago, life forms were microscopic in size, but during the Ediacaran, large, complex organisms first appeared, some of which — such as a type of organism known as rangeomorphs — grew as tall as two metres. These organisms were some of the first complex organisms on Earth, and although they look like ferns, they may Read More ›