The scientists themselves express genuine astonishment:
It’s like something out of science fiction. Research led by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has revealed that a group of microbes, which feed off chemical reactions triggered by radioactivity, have been at an evolutionary standstill for millions of years. The discovery could have significant implications for biotechnology applications and scientific understanding of microbial evolution…
The microbe, Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, was first discovered in 2008 by a team of scientists, led by Tullis Onstott, a co-author on the new study. Found in a South African gold mine almost two miles beneath the Earth’s surface, the microbes acquire the energy they need from chemical reactions caused by the natural radioactive decay in minerals. They inhabit water-filled cavities inside rocks in a completely independent ecosystem, free from reliance on sunlight or any other organisms…
Using advanced tools that allow scientists to read the genetic blueprints of individual cells, the researchers examined the genomes of 126 microbes obtained from three continents. Surprisingly, they all turned out to be almost identical.
“It was shocking,” Stepanauskas said. “They had the same makeup, and so we started scratching our heads.”
Scientists found no evidence that the microbes can travel long distances, survive on the surface, or live long in the presence of oxygen. So, once researchers determined that there was no possibility the samples were cross-contaminated during research, plausible explanations dwindled.
“The best explanation we have at the moment is that these microbes did not change much since their physical locations separated during the breakup of supercontinent Pangaea, about 175 million years ago,” Stepanauskas said. “They appear to be living fossils from those days. That sounds quite crazy and goes against the contemporary understanding of microbial evolution.”
What this means for the pace of microbial evolution, which often happens at a much more accelerated rate, is surprising. Many well-studied bacteria, such as E. coli, have been found to evolve in only a few years in response to environmental changes, such as exposure to antibiotics.Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, “Living fossils: Microbe discovered in evolutionary stasis for millions of years” at ScienceDaily
If these findings hold up, this will be another paper that Darwinians will need to politely strangle and bury. All those confident pronouncements, and now…
The paper is open access.
See also: Günter Bechly: Paper says Cambrian Explosion took only 410,000 years From the paper’s media release: 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.