Earliest “land animals” were actually victims of a prehistoric Pompeii, say researchers

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 looping millipede death-trail/Anthony Shillito

That’s the view of some researchers of the Ordovician trackways from 455 million years ago. They eyed the tracks skeptically because all other trackways on land dated from about 420 mya (Silurian era), and they found something interesting. From ScienceDaily:

What they discovered is that the trackways occur within volcanic ash that settled under water, and not within freshwater lake and sub-aerial sands (as previously thought). This means that the site is not the oldest evidence for animal communities on land, but instead “is actually a remarkable example of a ‘prehistoric Pompeii’,” says Shillito — a suite of rocks that preserve trails made by distressed and dying millipede-like arthropods as they were overcome by ash from volcanic events.

Further investigation proved that this was the case. In the course of their study, they found 121 new millipede trackways, all within volcanic ash with evidence for underwater or shoreline deposition.

Volcanic ash is known to cause mass death in some modern arthropod communities, particularly in water, because ash is so tiny it can get inside arthropod exoskeletons and stick to their breathing and digestive apparatus. Shilllito and Davies noticed that most of the trails were extremely tightly looping — a feature which is commonly associated with “death dances” in modern and ancient arthropods.

This study, published in Geology, overturns what is known about the earliest life on land and casts new light onto one of the key evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth. Shillito notes, “It reveals how even surprising events can be preserved in the ancient rock record, but — by removing the ‘earliest’ outlier of evidence — suggests that the invasion of the continents happened globally at the same time.” Paper. (paywall) – Anthony P. Shillito, Neil S. Davies. Death near the shoreline, not life on land: Ordovician arthropod trackways in the Borrowdale Volcanic Group, UK. Geology, 2018; DOI: 10.1130/G45663.1 More.

Now it gets even more interesting. Why would it have happened globally at the same time?

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See also: First transitional land fossils never walked on their legs?

Transition to land remake: Now starring … the trilobite


Early tetrapod (“fishapod”) sheds light on transition to land—maybe

One Reply to “Earliest “land animals” were actually victims of a prehistoric Pompeii, say researchers

  1. 1
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Billions of dead things, buried in water and sediment all over the earth at the same time in the midst of their death throes…it must have been a flaming meteor! Or a volcano! Or a supernova! Or cats and dogs living together! Or Donald Trump!

    The one possible cause, however, that must NOT not be considered is a global catastrophic flood. Because that would be hateful and ignorant, and unsophisticated, and … wait for it … religious!!!! And we know how ridiculous, and biased, and stupid, and uneducated, and hateful those people are! Their hateful speech must never be permitted to see the light of day! Did we mention how hateful those people are? They really aren’t people, not when they are so hateful. Did we mention they are very hateful?! If only something could be done….

    Peter the Apostle had their number nearly 2,000 years ago. In case you missed it on the Reincarnation-as-Science thread, here it is again, this time in the New Living Translation:

    This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory. I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.

    Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

    They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

    But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

    Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

    And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

    And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

    You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

    2 Peter chapter 2, NLT

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