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Günter Bechly: Paper says Cambrian Explosion took only 410,000 years

Uranium-lead dating shows that the Cambrian explosion is younger than previously thought
A spectacular representative of the Ediacara biota – an impression of Pteridinium simplex in Southern Namibia. Credit: Senckenberg/Linnemann

If so, it “has just gone nuclear,” he writes. Gone nuclear? Funny how life has a way of imitating comedy. Weren’t some of us wasting our time recently trying to create a panic about radioactive snowflakes in outer space? And while we weren’t looking, the Cambrian Explosion …

Okay, the story is that Bechly has been making the point that Cambrian life form Dickinsonia is “unlikely to be an animal.”* Someone over at Peaceful Science took issue with that.

While mulling the matter, Bechly went back to the publications and stumbled across something quite remarkable:

Recently, I stumbled upon a paper from 2018 that I had previously overlooked, and it proved to be dynamite. It is a study by a research group from the University of Zurich about the transition from the Ediacaran organisms to the Cambrian animal phyla in the Nama Basin of Namibia (Linnemann et al. 2018). What they found is truly mind-blowing. The window of time between the latest appearance date (LAD) of the alien Ediacaran biota and the first appearance date (FAD) of the complex Cambrian biota was only 410,000 years. You read that correctly, just 410 thousand years! This is not an educated guess but based on very precise radiometric U-Pb dating with an error margin of only plus-minus 200 thousand years. This precision is truly a remarkable achievement of modern science considering that we are talking about events 538 million years ago.

The authors of the study fully realized that their finding documents an unexpected “extremely short duration of the faunal transition from Ediacaran to Cambrian biota.” Therefore, they speculated about ecologically driven reasons for this rapid onset of the Cambrian Explosion.

Günter Bechly, “The Cambrian Explosion Has Just Gone Nuclear” at Evolution News and Science Today (April 8, 2021)

Nope. Ecology won’t do that for us. The process isn’t just somehow happening. Something is driving it.

Here’s the original media release from 2018:

Using uranium-lead dating, Senckenberg scientists, in cooperation with an international team, were able to date the onset of the “Cambrian explosion” to precisely 538.8 million years ago. During the “Cambrian explosion,” all currently known “blueprints” in the animal kingdom appeared within a few million years, while at the same time the so-called “Ediacara biota” – a group of unique, specialized life forms – became extinct. The study was recently published in the scientific journal Terra Nova…

Moreover, the scientists’ data series reveal that the development of the fauna took place within a very short period. The transition from the “Ediacara biota” – multi-celled but very simply organisms – to the diverse Cambrian life forms occurred over less than 410,000 years. “From a geological point of view, this represents a veritable sprint,” according to the research team. Based on the current study, this rapid faunal change may be best explained as a kind of “biological arms race”: New fundamental traits accelerated the subsequent evolution and fueled the next “adaptive breakthrough.” “For example, if an organisms became increasingly mobile and fed on prey, previously even less mobile animals had to come up with new ways to protect themselves – which may have led to the rapid development of shells or skeletons. One achievement thus engendered the next – and, by necessity, within a shortened period of time,” says Linnemann in summary.

Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, “Uranium-lead dating shows that the Cambrian explosion is younger than previously thought” at Phys.org (December 19, 2018)

This is the usual Darwinian short circuit. The fact that a life form would be better off with, say, eyes does not mean it will just start to develop them any more than the fact that a woman might be better off without a chronic illness means she can just get over it. The solutions to some problems requires focused intelligence.

Bechly adds,

The Cambrian Explosion has gone nuclear and simply evaporates neo-Darwinism as a brilliant and beautiful but failed scientific theory, as it was recently called by Yale University professor David Gelernter (2019).

Günter Bechly, “The Cambrian Explosion Has Just Gone Nuclear” at Evolution News and Science Today (April 8, 2021)

No wonder the paper, which is closed access, was ignored. Bet the next one will be too. Darwinism is slowly being discredited but it is still Too Big to Fail.

  • As Bechly notes in the article, at least one researcher has proposed that Dickinsonia belongs to a now-extinct Ediacaran kingdom of life. But it might be a fungus.

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham

per Pearlman YeC: considering the one year that was the 1656 anno-mundi impacts year, aka global flood by Noach accounts for 200M rounded years of current consensus chronology (from the end of the original single continent till the onset of The ice ages), 450k years could certainly be represented by 1656 years of history if not less (ie from day 3 until mid Mabul year). Never mind the 13.8B years rounded of history that lasted but 4 days, the time it took for the universe to attain mature size and density. reference the YeC Moshe Emes series for Torah and science alignment. Pearlman
So in less than one tenth of the time that it is alleged that some ape-like creature morphed into a human being, we have the appearance of, basically, all the major phyla from no known stem group(s)? And Darwinists pretend as if this is no problem whatsoever for Darwin's theory of slight, slow, successive, modifications? Man, it takes a lot a blind faith, untroubled by real world facts, to be a Darwinist!
Right of Reply: Our Response to Jerry Coyne - September 29, 2019 written by Günter Bechly, Brian Miller and David Berlinski Excerpt: The Cambrian Explosion, Coyne argues, “is an explosion only in geological terms, and allows for a lot of biological evolution to take place, (after all, modern whales evolved from small terrestrial deerlike organisms in just 12 million years).” This is wrong in its first assertion, it is wrong in its second assertion; and it is wrong all around. The Cambrian Explosion is an abrupt event in geological and biological terms. The average longevity of marine invertebrate species is 5-10 million years. This is standard evolutionary biology. Thus, the transition from an assumed worm-like ancestor to all of the Cambrian animal phyla took place during the lifespan of, at most, a few successive species. (The phyla represent the largest division of animal classification exemplifying the most significant differences in biological form, whereas species which represent the smallest divisions and exemplify much more minor differences). Yet neo-Darwinists envision the new body plans that characterize the animal phyla arising as the result of an accumulation of many, many species-level changes and transitions over long periods of time—indeed, far more time than the Cambrian paleontological record allows. Consequently, the Cambrian Explosion is called the Cambrian explosion for a very good reason: something dramatic happened in a very short period of time. The whales? And in twelve million years? Not likely. The available window of time for the transition from the terrestrial pakicetids to fully marine basilosaurids (Pelagiceti) is only 4.5 million years. This corresponds to the lifespan of a single larger mammal species, as Donald Prothero correctly notes. Prothero is Coyne’s ideological ally. They should be better friends. Short time spans give rise to a generic waiting time problem—a much-discussed issue in mainstream population genetics. It is easy to see why. The time required for even a single pair of coordinated mutations to originate and spread in a population is, at least, an order of magnitude longer than the window of time established by the fossil record. Either the fossil record must go, or the waiting time must go, but they cannot go on together. The whales are the least of it. The emergence of a single pair of coordinated mutations in the human lineage required a waiting time of 216 million years. The separation of the chimpanzee and human lineages took place only six or seven million years ago. These figures are clearly in conflict. This is the standard view, the one held by mainstream evolutionary biologists. If the Cambrian Explosion cannot be contained by a play on words, perhaps it may be constrained by a sleight of hand? The very concept of an explosion, Coyne argues, “is disappearing, with paleontologists increasingly speaking of a ‘Cambrian diversification’.” Are they? Are they really? A search on Google Scholar for academic publications between 2000 and 2019 yields 13,400 matches for the term ‘Cambrian Explosion’ but only 392 matches for ‘Cambrian Diversification.’ The Cambrian Explosion continues to explode: “Evidence is converging,” paleontologists have written recently, “towards picturing the Cambrian explosion as even swifter than what we thought.” This does not look like a disappearing concept at all. Some scholars should leave sleights of hand alone. David Gelernter accepted the conclusion that there were no putative ancestors of the Cambrian phyla in the preceding Ediacaran strata. He is in good company. So do most paleontologists who specialize in this field. This conclusion is not controversial, and it is obviously at odds with Darwin’s theory. Coyne is unpersuaded, maintaining that, yes, we have found Ediacaran “animals that appear to be arthropods, muscle-clad cnidarians (the group that includes modern jellyfish and anemones), echinoderms, mollusks, and probable sponges.” This is pure fantasy. Coyne is unacquainted with the facts. There are no Ediacaran arthropods. There are no Ediacaran echinoderms either. Akarua adami, it is true, was initially attributed to the echinoderms. But apart from pentaradial symmetry, Akarua adami lack all of the synapomorphic characteristics of the echinoderms. The Cambrian fossil record contains stem echinoderms in helicoplacoids and homalozoans (carpoids) after all; and we know from reconstructed phylogenetic trees that pentaradial symmetry does not belong to their ground plan. The mollusks to which Coyne confidently appeals as friends of the family? They belong to the Ediacaran fossil genus Kimberella. First described as a jellyfish, Kimberella was later indeed sometimes associated with early mollusks. This attribution remained controversial: several characteristics contradicted it. A comprehensive paper recently reviewed the “problem of Kimberella” and concluded that “the possibility that Kimberella is coelenterate grade should therefore not be excluded.” Although likely a metazoan, they went on to write, “its placement remains problematic; it may be on the bilaterian stem group rather than within the stem group of any particular phylum.” That leaves sponges and cnidarians. There is not much there, and it is of no interest. These groups branched off the metazoan tree long before the origin of bilaterian animals, and thus are irrelevant to the question of the abrupt appearance of the Cambrian animal phyla. In passing, Coyne mentions a putative bilaterian segmented worm-like animal from the terminal Ediacaran period. The body plan of this worm is unlike the body plan of all known fossil or living animals. It is not ancestral to any of them. It’s confirmation as a worm among worms would, at best, establish the presence of a single phylum in the shape of the annelids at the very end of the Ediacaran. This would marginally extend the length of the Cambrian Explosion by a few million years. What about the other Ediacaran trace fossils? All gone. A seminal study published in 2016 experimentally demonstrated that these Ediacaran trace fossils can be easily reproduced as artifacts of stirred up bacterial mats that covered the Ediacaran sea floors. Careless in his facts, Coyne is also careless in his references. There is, for example, the recent study by Wood et al. (2019). It is there, Coyne assures himself, that all those Cambrian antecedents may be found. In fact, this paper contains no evidence for Ediacaran bilaterian animals. There are reasonable candidates for primitive metazoan lineages, like sponges, ctenophores, and cnidarians, but not a single putative ancestor for any of the 21 Cambrian bilaterian animal phyla. If this is unequivocal, the attribution of the very Ediacaran Dickinsonia to stem metazoan animals is dubious. Had Coyne done a more thorough survey of the paleontological literature himself, he would have discovered that the absence of Ediacaran predecessors to the Cambrian is an established fact of modern paleontology. Wood’s more general conclusion is pertinent, convincing, and correct: “The Cambrian Explosion represents a radiation of crown-group bilaterians … one phase amongst several metazoan radiations.” That there were many such abrupt radiations is undisputed. There were, at least, 18! Why Coyne thinks this a point in his favor is mysterious. Those radiating facts comprise a fatal objection to Darwin’s theory. It was Richard Dawkins who observed that “evolution not only is a gradual process as a matter of fact; it has to be gradual if it is to do any explanatory work.” If evolution must be gradual, or continuous, as a matter of fact and as a matter of theory, those 18 explosive events, which are neither gradual nor continuous, would seem to represent considerable conflicting evidence. Some time ago, paleontologists tried to explain the absence of soft-bodied ancestors in pre-Cambrian sediments as artifacts of preservation. No longer. This hypothesis has been refuted by evidence from fossil sites of the Burgess Shale type in Mongolia and China. They yielded nothing but fossil algae. This made the problem of the Cambrian Explosion even more acute: 550 million years ago there were no animals at all, and 537 million years ago there were already fully developed crown-group arthropods like trilobites with sophisticated compound eyes, exoskeletons, and articulated legs. Does anybody seriously believe that such an enormous transition within 13 million years, (now whittled down to 410,000 Years), is a piece of cake? Gelernter is right to be skeptical, and mainstream science supports his arguments. https://quillette.com/2019/09/29/right-of-reply-our-response-to-jerry-coyne/ “Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), ‘If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It’s a mirage. None of it happens that way." – Doug Axe PhD. - quoted from video interview https://www.metacafe.com/watch/5347797/

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