Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Researchers: Plants colonized Earth 100 mya earlier than thought


Earth’s history, our planet’s continents would have been devoid of all life except microbes.

All of this changed with the origin of land plants from their pond scum relatives, greening the continents and creating habitats that animals would later invade.

The timing of this episode has previously relied on the oldest fossil plants which are about 420 million years old.

New research, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicates that these events actually occurred a hundred million years earlier, changing perceptions of the evolution of the Earth’s biosphere.

The researchers were using molecular clock technology.

Co-lead author Mark Puttick described the team’s approach to produce the timescale. He said: “The fossil record is too sparse and incomplete to be a reliable guide to date the origin of land plants. Instead of relying on the fossil record alone, we used a ‘molecular clock’ approach to compare differences in the make-up of genes of living species — these relative genetic differences were then converted into ages by using the fossil ages as a loose framework. Paper. (public access) – JL Morris, MN Puttick, J Clark, D Edwards, P Kenrick, S Pressel, CH Wellman, Z Yang, H Schneider and PCJ Donoghue. Timescale of early land plant evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018 More.

We’re not particularly surprised by “earlier than thought” origins; those stories are now reported all the time. But how reliable is the molecular clock?

See also: Evolution Makes No Sense on This Molecular Clock Problem (Cornelius Hunter)

Molecular clocks and fossils at odds again


Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen

of related note:
Bechly: In the Fossil Record, “Abrupt Appearances Are the Rule” - February 20, 2018, Excerpt: , you might think that the Cambrian explosion some 530 million years is a singularity, a freak of nature: the sudden appearance of phyla, major categories of life,,,, Yet Dr. Bechly points out that the problem posed by the Cambrian event is not singular but in fact has been repeated numerous times in the long history of life — sudden explosions, abrupt appearances, followed by diversification. Each should multiply the distress of Darwin’s defenders, if they are honest with themselves about it. In a chapter co-authored with philosopher of science Stephen Meyer in the recent book Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, Bechly details 19 such “explosions.” As he observes, in the fossil record, “Abrupt appearances are the rule.” Each such event poses the same challenge to Darwinian thinking that the Cambrian explosion does. https://evolutionnews.org/2018/02/bechly-in-the-fossil-record-abrupt-appearances-are-the-rule/ podcast: https://www.discovery.org/multimedia/audio/2018/02/bechly-fossils-1/

Leave a Reply