Before the Cambrian?
New Scientist asks, and answers,
From 1.7 billion years ago, for a billion boring years, Earth remained a slimy, near-static world of algae and microbes. The pace picked up 750 million years ago: glaciers spread, complex animals appeared, and by 520 million years ago the Cambrian revolution – an explosion of varied life – was under way. The reason for that long stasis has been a mystery.
We may now have the answer: the gradual cooling of the planet’s interior. Just as turning down a stove burner slows the boiling of a stew pot, cooling of the mantle allowed the “scum” on top to thicken, says Peter Cawood at the University of St Andrews, UK. The resulting surface stability slowed geological change, seemingly stalling evolution for a billion years, until the planet was cool enough for tectonic activity to shift up a gear.
This explanation will last until a more complex organism or two are found in the boring billion.
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life)
6 Replies to “Why was there a “boring billion” years of single cell life?”
I’ve been a long time advocate of focusing on single-celled organisms. Forget about whether humans and chimps share a common ancestor. If materialists cannot explain the origin and evolution of even the simplest forms of life, who cares what else they may claim to be able to explain.
Origin of Life is interesting, sure, Mung.
But was boring boring borning until Origin of F•••ing”. Trilobite Orgies took “fruitful & multiply” to the next level….
But not just the origin of life.
Presumably there is any evolutionary tree within each genome that shows how it began from a few simple beginning genes and proteins to the “modern” complex that exists today within simple once-celled organisms.
The whole thing surely did not just come together all at once in one fell swoop! poof! That would be _creationism_, gasp!
Well, why should the existence of only simple one-celled organisms be boring?
I must be misreading this:
“The pace picked up 750 million years ago: glaciers spread, complex animals appeared . . .”
Sounds like complex animals appeared when the glaciers were spreading (meaning, when the world was getting cooler).
“Just as turning down a stove burner slows the boiling of a stew pot, cooling of the mantle allowed the “scum” on top to thicken . . . . The resulting surface stability slowed geological change, seemingly stalling evolution . . .”
Which is it? Did the cooling kickstart the evolution of complex animals, or did it stall it? Or are they saying the complex animals started to appear, then things stalled, then they picked up again? But that scenario doesn’t seem to work with the math.
And why would cooling stall evolution anyway? Surely (so the evolutionary thinking goes) cold temperatures helped produce a need for warm-blooded creatures, thick feathers, fur, blubber, lots of creatures that survive in cold climates, Antarctic fish with natural “anti-freeze” in their bodies, and on and on . . .
Is there any rational reason to think that cooling — or warming — really has anything at all to do with evolution? And I don’t mean an evolution that is under the guidance of prior programming that can respond to specific environmental stimuli. I’m talking about “real” evolution — you know, blind, undirected, RM+NS type of evolution.
Why was there a “boring billion” years of single cell life?
You would maybe have preferred a boring two billion years of single cell life? Oh vey!