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“Much earlier than thought (TM)”: Reef building

Orange sea pen/Toby Hudson, Wikimedia Commons

From Nature:

Animal reef-building evolved millions of years earlier than previously thought, researchers report today in Science1. Scientists have discovered fossils indicating that animal, or metazoan, reefs date to as far back as about 548 million years ago, some seven million years earlier than previously estimated. This suggests they appeared prior to the Cambrian explosion, a wellspring of diverse life that is generally thought to have driven the proliferation of reef-building.

Here’s the abstract:

Reef-building in metazoans represents an important ecological innovation whereby individuals collectively enhance feeding efficiency and gain protection from competitors and predation. The appearance of metazoan reefs in the fossil record therefore indicates an adaptive response to complex ecological pressures. In the Nama Group, Namibia, we found evidence of reef-building by the earliest known skeletal metazoan, the globally distributed Cloudina, ~548 million years ago. These Cloudina reefs formed open frameworks without a microbial component but with mutual attachment and cementation between individuals. Orientated growth implies a passive suspension-feeding habit into nutrient-rich currents. The characteristics of Cloudina support the view that metazoan reef-building was promoted by the rise of substrate competitors and predators. (paywall)

File under: Next one out for coffee buys the new USB stick for “Earlier than thought” backups. See also: Bat family older than thought. Also lacewings, among many others.

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This reef is Pre Cambrian, a_b. Right where/when Darwin was hoping/predicting to find fossil evidence of Cambrian critters on their way to being what they exploded into. This reef shows little (any?) evidence... Darwin's doubts still justified 160 years and counting. ppolish
Thanks for the heads-up BA77. jstanley01
So, when there is evidence that the Cambrian "explosion" may have begun millions of years earlier, the IDists bring out the conspiracy theory angle. Except, of course, the young earth intelligent design proponents, who simply argue that every ageing technique available to science is wrong. Acartia_bogart
OT: William Dembski--Being as Communion - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYAsaU9IvnI Book website: http://www.beingascommunion.com/ bornagain77
Late Pre Cambrian - should be chocked full of semi evolved Cambrian life forms. Pre-Trilobites galore. Darwin can finally rest in peace:) ppolish

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