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Oldest found insect is – are you ready? – 400 million years old

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And you’re not tired of hooting at Darwinism yet? Nor are we.

According to Andrew Ross, the curator for fossil arthropods at the Natural History Museum, the fossil, a springtail, sat around for 60 years before being recognized for what it was.

In 2002 two American scientists, Dr Michael Engel from the University of Kansas and Dr David Grimaldi from the American Museum of Natural History Museum, New York, visited the Museum to study the fossil insect collections. One of the specimens they asked to see was Rhyniognatha hirsti . From an initial examination they realised it was interesting and borrowed it to take back to the states to study in more detail. There they realised the true importance of the specimen and wrote a paper for the prestigious journal ‘Nature’ that was published on 12th February 2004.

Although there is no evidence of wings preserved in the Rhynie Chert, the advanced form of the mandibles of Rhyniognatha indicates that it could have been winged. This is very important as the oldest known fossils of flying insects are 320 million years old; the presence of true insects as far back as 400 million years ago indicates that wings may have evolved much earlier.

Here’s the abstract:

Late Carboniferous paleoichnology reveals the oldest full-body impression of a flying insect

Insects were the first animals to evolve powered flight and did so perhaps 90 million years before the first flight among vertebrates. However, the earliest fossil record of flying insect lineages (Pterygota) is poor, with scant indirect evidence from the Devonian and a nearly complete dearth of material from the Early Carboniferous. By the Late Carboniferous a diversity of flying lineages is known, mostly from isolated wings but without true insights into the paleoethology of these taxa. Here, we report evidence of a full-body impression of a flying insect from the Late Carboniferous Wamsutta Formation of Massachusetts, representing the oldest trace fossil of Pterygota. Through ethological and morphological analysis, the trace fossil provides evidence that its maker was a flying insect and probably was representative of a stem-group lineage of mayflies. The nature of this current full-body impression somewhat blurs distinctions between the systematics of traces and trace makers, thus adding to the debate surrounding ichnotaxonomy for traces with well-associated trace makers.

See also: 200 million-year-old eel, discovered alive, predates current eel fossils

Yes, exactly. I was merely expanding the circular reasoning to say that the *niche* as well must not have changed over those 400 million years precisely because because the insect didn't evolve. Also, according to the original article, "Although there is no evidence of wings preserved in the Rhynie Chert, the advanced form of the mandibles of Rhyniognatha indicates that it could have been winged." My question was whether a fossil with the "less advanced form of the mandibles" was ever located. Finally, I suggested an alternate explanation for the dearth of precursors that would not require a "Darwin of the Gaps explanation." ;-) Querius
Saying ‘why hasn’t [x] changed’ is just the same as saying ‘if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys’.
No, it isn't. The evolutionary narrative allows for multiple lineages to co-exist. And presumes that even the monkeys are still gradually evolving. Or waiting for their next instance of punctuated equilibrium. Whichever. It does not explain why or how certain creatures would opt out. If things could just not evolve, then what was the driving force behind our current diversity? This demonstrates how Darwinism fails to explain anything. No one can confidently say, 'This selective pressure or the other led to that change.' They can only guess that there was or was not such pressure based on what did or did not change. Who can say whether these insects experienced less environmental change, competition, or other pressures, or the same, or more compared to everything else? The environment and selective pressures cannot explain adaptation if the degree or lack of adaptation is the only measure of them. It's circular logic. The found a niche, and that's why they didn't change. They didn't change, and that's how we know they found a niche. ScottAndrews
"It didn’t change, so it must not have needed to,” also implies that the environment did not change enough to give any advantage to any significant mutation during that entire period, in this case 400 million years. Seems unlikely to me. The fossil you are talking abut is the head of an insect. How can you possible know what has and hasn't changed in that lineage (if this lineage is on earth today). Perhaps it's a common ancestor to flies and beetles - we can't tell. More generally, stasis only tells us that some ways of making a living in the world haven't changed for a long time. Saying 'why hasn't [x] changed' is just the same as saying 'if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys'. wd400
Yes, there's that, bornagain77. A view that I think is reasonable in light of what we observe is as follows (accepting for the sake of argument that the fossilized R.hirsti is indeed 400 million years old): - All species that are alive now were alive 400 mya - Many more species filled all the "gaps" in between them (think of a hair comb with all its teeth), and the more closely similar ones shared chunks of DNA in various ways, blurring any clear distinctions between species - Significant environmental challenges, caused many species to go extinct (think of a comb with 3/4 of its teeth randomly broken off) - The "tree of life" model postulates that the remaining semi-adjacent species had common ancestors known as "missing links," but these would be non-existent according to this model; extinct species that were contemporary are wrongly postulated as ancestors - The distribution of fossils within the "geological record" is related to biomes and catastrophic events, not time (rapid flow of turbid water can be shown to deposit parallel strata at an angle) This view makes no scientific attempt to explain how life originated, probably has a name (that I'm not aware of), and probably has been rejected for one reason or another. Still, I think it's interesting. Querius
Hmmm, instead of all that, how about the much more reasonable fact that it didn't change its basic body plan for 400 million years because the polyfunctionality of its genome imposed severe poly-constraint on the amount of variation possible for the body plan?
Poly-Functional Complexity equals Poly-Constrained Complexity http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfMjdoZmd2emZncQ =================== This following quote reiterates the 'scientific' principle that material processes cannot generate functional information: “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.” Werner Gitt, “In the Beginning was Information”, 1997, p. 106. (Dr. Gitt was the Director at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology) His challenge to scientifically falsify this statement has remained unanswered since first published.
"It didn't change, so it must not have needed to," also implies that the environment did not change enough to give any advantage to any significant mutation during that entire period, in this case 400 million years. Seems unlikely to me. It also implies that before the last 400 million years, the environment must have been very different, enough so to evolve the springtail/mayfly from something else to a modern form relatively quickly. So my question is this, are there any insect fossils that are claimed by evolutionists to be the precursors of R.hirsti? I suppose the claim will be wingless variations, but Engle et al claim that the mandibles indicate that wings were present, so the earlier variation must display significant differences in their mandibles. Querius
Scott as to:
To say, “It didn’t change, so it must not have needed to” requires no science at all.
But it does require a healthy dose of gullibility. :) bornagain77
Evolutionary biologists claim that things change if they need to change, and don't if they don't. And the way they determine whether they needed to change is by whether or not they did. To say, "It didn't change, so it must not have needed to" requires no science at all. ScottAndrews
(a) it's not a springtail (b) is there a point to these posts. Do evolutionary biologists claim everything has to change all the time? wd400

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