Ediacaran News

Multicellular fossils from 600 mya?

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Multicellular fossil from 600 mya/Virginia Tech

From ScienceDaily:

In an effort to determine how, why, and when multicellularity arose from single-celled ancestors, Xiao and his collaborators looked at phosphorite rocks from the Doushantuo Formation in central Guizhou Province of South China, recovering three-dimensionally preserved multicellular fossils that showed signs of cell-to-cell adhesion, differentiation, and programmed cell death — qualities of complex multicellular eukaryotes such as animals and plants.

The discovery sheds light on how and when solo cells began to cooperate with other cells to make a single, cohesive life form.

The complex multicellularity evident in the fossils is inconsistent with the simpler forms such as bacteria and single-celled life typically expected 600 million years ago.

Actually, we might find multicellulars from earlier eras still. Don’t the comb jellies, far more than merely multicellular, date back to that era? And that pre-Cambrian animal with muscles (560 mya)? Let’s see what else turns up.

Here’s the abstract:

Phosphorites of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (~600 million years old) yield spheroidal microfossils with a palintomic cell cleavage pattern1, 2. These fossils have been variously interpreted as sulphur-oxidizing bacteria3, unicellular protists4, mesomycetozoean-like holozoans5, green algae akin to Volvox6, 7, and blastula embryos of early metazoans1, 2, 8, 9, 10 or bilaterian animals11, 12. However, their complete life cycle is unknown and it is uncertain whether they had a cellularly differentiated ontogenetic stage, making it difficult to test their various phylogenetic interpretations. Here we describe new spheroidal fossils from black phosphorites of the Doushantuo Formation that have been overlooked in previous studies. These fossils represent later developmental stages of previously published blastula-like fossils, and they show evidence for cell differentiation, germ–soma separation, and programmed cell death. Their complex multicellularity is inconsistent with a phylogenetic affinity with bacteria, unicellular protists, or mesomycetozoean-like holozoans. Available evidence also indicates that the Doushantuo fossils are unlikely crown-group animals or volvocine green algae. We conclude that an affinity with cellularly differentiated multicellular eukaryotes, including stem-group animals or algae, is likely but more data are needed to constrain further the exact phylogenetic affinity of the Doushantuo fossils. (paywall)

8 Replies to “Multicellular fossils from 600 mya?

  1. 1
    Joe says:

    And what about “snowball earth” which allegedly ended around 600 mya?

  2. 2

    I’m not sure what all the hoopla is about. We have stomatolites, which are assemblages of cyanobacterial species in “microbial mats” held together by polysaccharide sheaths, from at least 2.8 if not 3.4 billion years ago. Oh I know no one pays the slightest attention to multi-cellular prokaryotes, but that is what they are. And I don’t know how you can tell from a phosphorite that it is or isn’t a prokaryotic multicellular assemblage.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Robert Sheldon at 1, I wondered the same thing myself. It feels like celebrating the tricycle in the age of airplanes. But never mind, maybe the next find will be at 700 mya.

  4. 4
    william spearshake says:

    I don’t think that this a surprise to many people. For many reasons, the fossil record from that long ago is spotty at best. Very few people think that the animals that appear in the Cambrian just arose fully formed.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    To back up Dr. Sheldon’s claim,,,

    “I’m not sure what all the hoopla is about. We have stomatolites, which are assemblages of cyanobacterial species in “microbial mats” held together by polysaccharide sheaths, from at least 2.8 if not 3.4 billion years ago.”

    ,,,there is this piece of evidence,,

    Geobiologist Noffke Reports Signs of Life that Are 3.48 Billion Years Old – 11/11/13
    Excerpt: the mats woven of tiny microbes we see today covering tidal flats were also present as life was beginning on Earth. The mats, which are colonies of cyanobacteria, can cause unusual textures and formations in the sand beneath them. Noffke has identified 17 main groups of such textures caused by present-day microbial mats, and has found corresponding structures in geological formations dating back through the ages.
    http://www.odu.edu/about/odu-p...../topstory1

    Of related note, microbial mat ecology is complex and ‘interdependent’.

    Microbial Mat Ecology – Image on page 92 (third page down)
    http://www.dsls.usra.edu/biolo.....nit2.2.pdf

    Indeed the ‘social networks’ of bacteria are very sophisticated and certainly defy any coherent explanation from the simplistic reductive (i.e. bottom up) materialistic narrative of neo-Darwinism:

    Learning from Bacteria about Social Networks – video
    Description: Bacteria do not store genetically all the information required to respond efficiently to all possible environmental conditions. Instead, to solve new encountered problems (challenges) posed by the environment, they first assess the problem via collective sensing, then recall stored information of past experience and finally execute distributed information processing of the 109-12 bacteria in the colony,,, I will show illuminating movies of swarming intelligence of live bacteria in which they solve optimization problems for collective decision making that are beyond what we, human beings, can solve with our most powerful computers.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJpi8SnFXHs

    And as impressive as this ‘social networking’ is of bacteria, ‘that is beyond what we, human beings, can solve with our most powerful computers’, and as damaging as that fact is to the ‘bottom up’ materialistic paradigm of neo-Darwinism, we still do not have evidence to ‘bridge the gap’ between simple aggregates and multicellular life:

    In other words, there simply isn’t any evidence in the fossil record indicating that single cells ever formed anything other than ‘simple aggregates’:

    “We go from single cell protozoa. which would be ameoba and things like that. Then you get into some that are a little bit bigger, still single cell, and then you get aggregates, they’re still individual cells that aggregate together. They don’t seem to have much in the way of cooperation,,, but when you really talk about a functioning organism, that has more than just one type of cell, you are talking about a sponge and you can have hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of cells. So we don’t really have organisms that function with say two different types of cells, but there is only five total. We don’t have anything like that.”
    – Dr. Raymond G. Bohlin – quote taken from 31:00 minute mark of this following video
    Natural Limits to Biological Change 2/2 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo3OKSGeFRQ

    Challenging Fossil of a Little Fish
    Excerpt: “I think this is a major mystery in paleontology,” said Chen. “Before the Cambrian, we should see a number of steps: differentiation of cells, differentiation of tissue, of dorsal and ventral, right and left. But we don’t have strong evidence for any of these.” Taiwanese biologist Li was also direct: “No evolution theory can explain these kinds of phenomena.”
    http://www.fredheeren.com/boston.htm

    Moreover there another whole level of information on a cell’s surface, that certainly must be dealt with in constructing a multicellular creature, that is not reducible to a DNA information theoretic basis as is presupposed in neo-Darwinism:

    Glycan Carbohydrate Molecules – A Whole New Level Of Scarcely Understood Information on The Surface of Cells (and elsewhere in the cell)
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bO5txsOPde3BEPjOqcUNjL0mllfEc894LkDY5YFpJCA/edit

    Dr. Wells does a much better job of elucidating the problem for neo-Darwinism, than I can, here:

    Peer-Reviewed Paper: Development Needs Ontogenetic Information that Cannot Arise from Neo-Darwinian Mechanisms – Casey Luskin – June 2, 2014
    Excerpt: Jonathan Wells has published a new peer-reviewed scientific paper in the journal BIO-Complexity, “Membrane Patterns Carry Ontogenetic Information That Is Specified Independently of DNA.” With over 400 citations to the technical literature, this well-researched and well-documented article shows that embryogenesis depends on crucial sources of information that exist outside of the DNA.
    This ontogenetic information guides the development of an organism, but because it is derived from sources outside of the DNA, it cannot be produced by mutations in DNA. Wells concludes that because the neo-Darwinian model of evolution claims that variation is produced by DNA mutations, neo-Darwinism cannot account for the origin of epigenetic and ontogenetic information that exists outside of DNA. (Read more here:)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....86201.html

    Nor does the experimental evidence suggest that such a transition from single cell aggregates to multicellular organisms is possible by ‘bottom up’ neo-Darwinian processes. To highlight the monumental problem that Darwinian processes face in going from a single cell to a multicellular creature, it is important to note the difficulty in obtaining just two protein-protein binding sites,,

    “The likelihood of developing two binding sites in a protein complex would be the square of the probability of developing one: a double CCC (chloroquine complexity cluster), 10^20 times 10^20, which is 10^40. There have likely been fewer than 10^40 cells in the entire world in the past 4 billion years, so the odds are against a single event of this variety (just 2 binding sites being generated by accident) in the history of life. It is biologically unreasonable.”
    Michael J. Behe PhD. (from page 146 of his book “Edge of Evolution”)

    And yet, Dr. Behe, on the important Table 7.1 on page 143 of Edge Of Evolution, finds that a typical ‘simple’ cell might have some 10,000 protein-binding sites. Whereas a conservative estimate for protein-protein binding sites in a multicellular creature is,,,

    Largest-Ever Map of Plant Protein Interactions – July 2011
    Excerpt: The new map of 6,205 protein partnerings represents only about two percent of the full protein- protein “interactome” for Arabidopsis, since the screening test covered only a third of all Arabidopsis proteins, and wasn’t sensitive enough to detect many weaker protein interactions. “There will be larger maps after this one,” says Ecker.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....144936.htm

    ,,,So taking into account that they only covered 2%, of the full protein-protein “interactome”, then that gives us a number, for different protein-protein interactions, of 310,000. Thus, from my very rough ‘back of the envelope’ calculations, we find that this is at least 30 times higher than Dr. Behe’s estimate of 10,000 different protein-protein binding sites for a typical single cell (Page 143; Edge of Evolution; Behe). Therefore, at least at first glance from my rough calculations, it certainly appears to be a vastly impossible step that ‘botton up’ evolution cannot make, by purely unguided processes, to go from a single cell to a multi-cellular creature.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Then there is the ‘ontogenetic depth’ problem in embryogenesis that must be dealt with in constructing a multicellular creature:

    Darwin or Design? – Paul Nelson at Saddleback Church – Nov. 2012 – ontogenetic depth (excellent update) – video
    Text from one of the Saddleback slides:
    1. Animal body plans are built in each generation by a stepwise process, from the fertilized egg to the many cells of the adult. The earliest stages in this process determine what follows.
    2. Thus, to change — that is, to evolve — any body plan, mutations expressed early in development must occur, be viable, and be stably transmitted to offspring.
    3. But such early-acting mutations of global effect are those least likely to be tolerated by the embryo.
    Losses of structures are the only exception to this otherwise universal generalization about animal development and evolution. Many species will tolerate phenotypic losses if their local (environmental) circumstances are favorable. Hence island or cave fauna often lose (for instance) wings or eyes.
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/7ece8/

    A Listener’s Guide to the Meyer-Marshall Debate: Focus on the Origin of Information Question -Casey Luskin – December 4, 2013
    Excerpt: “There is always an observable consequence if a dGRN (developmental gene regulatory network) subcircuit is interrupted. Since these consequences are always catastrophically bad, flexibility is minimal, and since the subcircuits are all interconnected, the whole network partakes of the quality that there is only one way for things to work. And indeed the embryos of each species develop in only one way.” –
    Eric Davidson
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....79811.html

    Darwin’s Doubt (Part 8) by Paul Giem – developmental gene regulatory networks and epigenetic information – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....38;index=8

    Though it is easy to loose sight of the following fact in all the technical discussions, it is important to highlight that embryological development is an amazing, nay, it is a MIRACULOUS process:

    Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth — visualized – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70

    Mathematician Alexander Tsiaras on Human Development: “It’s a Mystery, It’s Magic, It’s Divinity” – March 2012
    Excerpt: ‘The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these, the mathematical models on how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with the marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us. It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.’

    HOW BIOLOGISTS LOST SIGHT OF THE MEANING OF LIFE
    — AND ARE NOW STARING IT IN THE FACE – Stephen L. Talbott – May 2012
    Excerpt: “If you think air traffic controllers have a tough job guiding planes into major airports or across a crowded continental airspace, consider the challenge facing a human cell trying to position its proteins”. A given cell, he notes, may make more than 10,000 different proteins, and typically contains more than a billion protein molecules at any one time. “Somehow a cell must get all its proteins to their correct destinations — and equally important, keep these molecules out of the wrong places”. And further: “It’s almost as if every mRNA [an intermediate between a gene and a corresponding protein] coming out of the nucleus knows where it’s going” (Travis 2011),,,
    Further, the billion protein molecules in a cell are virtually all capable of interacting with each other to one degree or another; they are subject to getting misfolded or “all balled up with one another”; they are critically modified through the attachment or detachment of molecular subunits, often in rapid order and with immediate implications for changing function; they can wind up inside large-capacity “transport vehicles” headed in any number of directions; they can be sidetracked by diverse processes of degradation and recycling . . . and so on without end. Yet the coherence of the whole is maintained.
    The question is indeed, then, “How does the organism meaningfully dispose of all its molecules, getting them to the right places and into the right interactions?”
    The same sort of question can be asked of cells, for example in the growing embryo, where literal streams of cells are flowing to their appointed places, differentiating themselves into different types as they go, and adjusting themselves to all sorts of unpredictable perturbations — even to the degree of responding appropriately when a lab technician excises a clump of them from one location in a young embryo and puts them in another, where they may proceed to adapt themselves in an entirely different and proper way to the new environment. It is hard to quibble with the immediate impression that form (which is more idea-like than thing-like) is primary, and the material particulars subsidiary.
    http://www.netfuture.org/2012/May1012_184.html#2

    Verse and Music:

    Psalms 139:14
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

    Do Life Big – Jamie Grace
    http://myktis.com/songs/life-big/

  7. 7
    AVS says:

    So we see the first traces of multicellular organisms about 60 million years before the cambrian explosion?
    Sounds about right. It’s pretty cool stuff, but what’s the big deal?

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    600 mya,,,
    qualities of complex multicellular eukaryotes such as animals and(or) plants.,,,
    ,,,We conclude that an affinity with cellularly differentiated multicellular eukaryotes, including stem-group animals or algae, is likely but more data are needed to constrain further the exact phylogenetic affinity of the Doushantuo fossils,,

    that finding reminds me of this finding

    Early Life in Death Valley – April 24, 2014
    Excerpt: In 2009, Knauth and Martin Kennedy of the University of California, Riverside, shocked their more conservative colleagues with a meta-analysis of thousands of geochemical records from around the planet. They reported additional evidence that a land-based explosion of photosynthesizing algae, mosses, fungi and other organisms was likely to have greened the continents and facilitated the global expansion of multicellular life (including animals) as long ago as 850 million years ago,,,
    This idea is still quite controversial. Some paleoscientists who agree with Knauth that Precambrian lands were green with microbiota do not believe that early animals, or their precursors, were necessarily lurking in those bacterial jungles. “It is unlikely that animals evolved on land prior to the Cambrian explosion,” Awramik said, noting that Knauth’s theory is not supported by hard fossil evidence.
    https://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140424-early-life-in-death-valley/

    and this,,,

    Greening of the Earth pushed way back in time – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: Conventional scientific wisdom has it that plants and other creatures have only lived on land for about 500 million years, but a new study is pointing to evidence for life on land that is four times as old — at 2.2 billion years ago and almost half way back to the inception of the planet.,,,
    ,,,these new fossils set a new and earlier benchmark for the greening of the land,”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141548.htm

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