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At Nature: The Cambrian Explosion just got more Bang


Bryozoan life forms’ origin is pushed back by 35 million years:

Bryozoans (also known as ectoprocts or moss animals) are aquatic, dominantly sessile, filter-feeding lophophorates that construct an organic or calcareous modular colonial (clonal) exoskeleton1,2,3. The presence of six major orders of bryozoans with advanced polymorphisms in lower Ordovician rocks strongly suggests a Cambrian origin for the largest and most diverse lophophorate phylum2,4,5,6,7,8. However, a lack of convincing bryozoan fossils from the Cambrian period has hampered resolution of the true origins and character assembly of the earliest members of the group. Here we interpret the millimetric, erect, bilaminate, secondarily phosphatized fossil Protomelission gatehousei9 from the early Cambrian of Australia and South China as a potential stem-group bryozoan. The monomorphic zooid capsules, modular construction, organic composition and simple linear budding growth geometry represent a mixture of organic Gymnolaemata and biomineralized Stenolaemata character traits, with phylogenetic analyses identifying P. gatehousei as a stem-group bryozoan. This aligns the origin of phylum Bryozoa with all other skeletonized phyla in Cambrian Age 3, pushing back its first occurrence by approximately 35 million years. It also reconciles the fossil record with molecular clock estimations of an early Cambrian origination and subsequent Ordovician radiation of Bryozoa following the acquisition of a carbonate skeleton10,11,12,13.

Zhang, Z., Zhang, Z., Ma, J. et al. Fossil evidence unveils an early Cambrian origin for Bryozoa. Nature (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-04033-w

Less time for that Darwinian famous claim:

It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, wherever and whenever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.

The paper is open access.

You may also wish to read: Gunter Bechly on the discontinuous fossil record. Bechly: “Darwin’s doubt” did not get smaller over time but bigger, and if he were still alive, he would likely agree that the evidence simply does not add up, since he was much more prudent than many of his modern followers.


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