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Another Explosion of Life: Avalon

Similar to the Cambrian explosion of animal life, it appears there was an earlier similar explosion for plants, at least the Ediacaran variety.
In what the ScienceNOW Daily News is calling Another Big Bang for Biology, the oldest assemblage of macroscopic life forms on earth, Ediacaran plants, appeared suddenly and fully diversified.
This plant life “explosion” coincides exactly with a sudden rise in ocean oxygenation.
The study authors, paleontologists from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, call their findings The Avalon Explosion.

The ScienceNOW article starts with the admission that

Researchers have uncovered what they think is a sudden diversification of life at least 30 million years before the Cambrian period, the time when most of the major living groups of animals emerged. If confirmed, the find reinforces the idea that major evolutionary innovations occurred in bursts.

Which, like the Cambrian explosion of animals, starkly contradicts standard Darwinian Dogma, and puts quite a strain on Punctuated Equlibria. Which is why the author feels the need to immediately reassure his readers that

The main points of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which he carefully laid out in The Origin of Species 149 years ago, have stood the test of time.

Nevertheless, this is one more major scientific finding to contradict the orthodox neo-Darwinian evolutionary scenario.
(Acknowledgment to Brig Klyce)

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21 Responses to Another Explosion of Life: Avalon

  1. Dawkins’ note to self:

    Lift goal posts.

    Dig new holes.

    Insert goal posts in new holes.

  2. “The main points of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which he carefully laid out in The Origin of Species 149 years ago, have stood the test of time.”

    Time seems to be the only test it has withstood.

  3. That statement is actually quite astonishing, given that Darwin’s “main point” was the gradual accumulation of changes over prolonged time periods.
    It would be much more accurate to say that “The main points of Darwin’s theory… have NOT stood the test of time.”
    But anyone who said that would be unceremoniously tossed out of the scientific brotherhood and not get to write articles for Science any more. Statements giving lip-service to Darwinism are currently obligatory when reporting results that flatly contradict it.

  4. Please explain how the Cambrian and Avalon “Explosions,” that lasted for tens of millions of years, contradict “Darwinism.” A sudden rise in diversity (at the White Sea) and a big die off (at Nama) related to a new environmental shift is exactly what ToE predicts. It is entirely possible that this new environment jump-started the diversity that characterizes the Cambrian.

  5. So to sum things up:

    Evolution by chance & necessity works too slowly to actually observe making any large changes as a result of the accumulation of small changes and the fossil record is too poor to record the large changes occuring through a series of small changes.

    No supporting evidence for Darwinian evolution just specious excuses for the lack of supporting evidence. Does that about sum up the situation?

  6. Undesigned – It is also entirely possible that these explosion(s) of life listed here were simply dropped off by a well(or mal)-meaning alien. Maybe this Ediacaran variety of plants was classified as an invasive species by our friend ET, and he got sick of weeding his garden, boxed them up one day and left them on our doorstep.

    Now – I’ve never seen any good evidence for my theory above, but I do suppose that in some cosmological “crazy Las Vegas odds” sort of way that it is indeed possible.

    The problem with PC and now Avalon is really with these buggers just appearing all sudden-like – poof, fully formed. Just like that. (waves hands wildly for emphasis).

  7. Big Bang:

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth

    The Avalon Explosion:

    And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

    The Cambrian explosion:

    And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
    And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    It seems that evolution is evolving into creationism. It won’t be long before creationism will be taught in schools, only it will be the evolutionists teaching it. The irony is just too rich.

  8. So in the Ediacarian and Cambrian eras, you had plenty of diversity, as if life were “experimenting” with morphologies unseen previously (due to lower oxygen levels and before that, no oxygen-based metabolisms at all), long before the self-correcting genomes of recent ages had arisen. Life went quietly nuts for a while, it seems. Additionally, lateral gene transfer went unchecked for millions of years. Co-option of other forms (mitochondria) led to new predation strategies. A couple of extinction events trimmed down the diversity quite a bit recently.

    What prediction does ID make in this instance? Is there a wink and a nod here about something intervening? Put simply, you have to put God’s thumb in the soup if you’re to make any sense of it.

    On the other hand, Dave, you (like myself) are an agnostic. Unlike me, you trust that life started elsewhere. The recent discovery of tholins around other stars should give weight to your view, and I’d love to read about that. Instead, we get more “Look what NDE can’t do!” Come on… give me some science!

    If you’re going to call BS on the New Synthesis, you should make some effort to explain it in your view.

  9. SelectedPete,
    Before the rise of hard body components like bone and shell (both of which seem connected to higher oxygen environments (feel free to correct me)) you don’t get a whole lot of fossilization. They do “Poof” but only after the “invention” of hard body components.

    As for your “theory,” I’m sorry, but no, there is no evidence. Frankly, I’d love to see some. Please, in the future, refer to that idea as a hypothesis. Get a few facts, and I’ll happily agree that its a theory.

    Frankly, ID is compelling. If some science could be done, I’d jump on the bandwagon in a hot second. The problem is that the universe (Multiverse?) is a cold, uncaring beast… it’s not even out to get us, it doesn’t care. I’d love it if some guiding force could be proven, if some beneficient Being were shown to be back there tinkering behind the infintely-dark curtain of night. But no… no tinkering… just blind, uncaring “chance and necessity.” Humanity squabbles over strips of parchement while the whole of Creation spins lazily along, unaware that we even exist.

    I’m begging you… prove me wrong.

  10. Undesigned:

    The recent discovery of tholins around other stars should give weight to your view, and I’d love to read about that.

    If you really want to read about the possibility of life from space:

    Organic compounds were first discovered in interstellar dust in 1968

    There is plenty of evidence that bacteria can survive the cold and vacuum of space and live for millions of years.
    There is even intriguing evidence for actual life on Mars!

    There’s an excellent, though expensive, book on this subject titled “Astronomical Origins of Life,” a collection of Fred Hoyle’s papers which for some reason I can’t link to on here.

    The fact is that the Cambrian, and now Avalon, explosions are a huge problem for Darwinism. Even Dawkins admits the Cambrian explosion represents a huge fossil gap, which he waves away by saying organisms before that time must not have left fossils.
    Maybe there just weren’t any.

    If your worldview needs a naturalistic explanation for life on earth, panspermia is your best bet. It’s not, BTW, inconsistent with ID.
    Another BTW for those not familiar with Ediacaran life; they were not plants as we think of plants today. They were strange organisms possibly more like lichens, with no definite modern descendants. Also no known ancestors, which is the interesting part. The fossil record looks like someone just dumped them here, fully formed in all their variety, to live for awhile then disappear. Some of the Cambrian organisms, on the other hand, survived.

  11. Undesigned

    Before the rise of hard body components like bone and shell (both of which seem connected to higher oxygen environments (feel free to correct me)

    Darwinism presumes materialism, life exists, amino acids cannot be generated in the presence of oxygen, and therefore oxygen was not present.

    However, there is substantial evidence that the Archaean Atmosphere had high concentrations of oxygen.

    Iron formations Law,
    Phillips and Myers of the review evidence for aoxic vs oxic archaean atmospheres and provide evidence for an oxic archean atmosphere using iron Pisoliths in Australian geological formations.

    The Earth may have had an oxygen-rich atmosphere as long ago as three billion years and possibly even earlier . . . Pisoliths have been a vital tool in the discovery of $5 billion worth of new gold deposits in WA

    The billion dollar commercial consequences give a very strong reason for getting this right, rather than politically correct.

  12. Undesigned,

    There was little diversity in the Cambrian but much disparity. Diversity means slight variations around a specific body type. Disparity means different body types.

    The taxonomic tree was formed from the top down and not from the bottom up as gradualism would predict. As time went on the number of classes increased and as time continued further the number of orders increased. This is just the opposite of Darwinian evolution. In other words the Darwinian tree is upside down and there are several of them. Now you can speculate on jump starting but it was not diversity that formed but disparity. So we are not talking about slight changes in the DNA but massive reorganizations of the genomes to arrive at functionally operational organisms.

    From what I understand a lot of soft body types got fossilized in the early Cambrian so if it was an issue prior to this, then it changed quickly.

  13. We already know what darwinism can do with enormous, highly specific selective pressure and very high reproductive rates: not much.

  14. Undesigned –

    Your original statement, hypothesis, whatever you wish to call it, is entirely valid in my book. I will first applaud you for being the lone voice of the naturalist here on this thread. You have not resorted to name calling or ad hominem attack – that is very good of you in my book.

    I am grateful that you feel that ID is compelling. I am also grateful that you so far have chosen to explore it and test it. Most others refuse, and wave it away without explaining why.

    The stark reality here is that I am not out to prove you wrong. I only want my unproven side to be heard along with your unproven side. Macroevolution is bankrupt from what I can see, and Darwin has had his paradigm (and my dime and yours) for a very long time now. I can’t speak for the others here, but I would like naturalists to be willing to follow this evidence trail where it leads.

    All kidding aside (and I do enjoy finding levity in this hard old subject). Currently, the evidence is becoming more and more overwhelming for those confounding “strips of parchement.”

  15. I recently read about. or possibly saw on Discovery Science, that iron concentration in the early oceans were so high that all the oxygen plants generated was taken up in iron compounds (rust basically) for billions of years. The free oxygen in the atmosphere is relatively recent and only a fraction of what plants produced in their entire history as most of it was first consumed by the formation of iron oxides.

    Another in a long series of lucky breaks that led to a planet able to support billions of mammalian intelligent agents in a high tech industrial civilization with stuff like telescopes and spacecraft and a desire to explore beyond the home planet. One might almost think this is the way organic life manages to survive longer than any one planet can remain hospitable to it. It took 4 billion years to get telescopes and spacecraft. That’s about half the hospitable lifetime of the planet then unless it (life) manages to relocate then it all dies when the sun becomes a red giant and turns the earth into a cinder.

  16. Here’s my problem, folks.

    In the article at the top of this thread I’m told, without a single qualifying phrase, that “This plant life “explosion” coincides exactly with a sudden rise in ocean oxygenation.”

    How is it that scientists can determine exactly what happened 30 million years before a purported Cambrian period, but can’t agree on whether or not industrial pollution has been a significant contributor to global warming over the past 100 years – or, for that matter, if there even is such a thing as global warming!

    I contend that it is preposterous for anyone to assert anything about events that supposedly transpired millions or billions of years ago. We simply don’t know. And we don’t even have a clue that can be interpreted without recourse to a bevy of unproven assumptions, a plethora of the most extravagant extrapolations, and a unusually strong tendency to circular reasoning.

    So the next time somebody starts talking to you about things that happend 100 years ago, ask them how they know. And if they’re brave enough to take you back 1000 years, take the time to express some serious incredulity. And if they have the nerve to go beyond, say, 10,000 years, interrupt them and tell them what you dreamt about last night – it will be every bit as real as what they were about to say.

  17. Soft body types don’t fossilize as well but they do fossilize. The plain fact of the matter is that the fossil record for complex multicellular life begins suddenly about 610mya and the best explanation for this is the obvious one – there was no complex multicellular life prior to that time. There’s no reason to believe that soft body types were somehow prohibited from fossilizing before then. Moreover those Ediacaran lifeforms beginning 610mya disappeared 540mya and don’t resemble anything that followed in the Cambrian fossil record where most of the modern phyla suddenly appeared. On the other hand plenty of sponges, algae, protists, and bacteria from the Ediacaran and far earlier are found today and resemble today’s living members of those groups. Again the evidence points not to a mysterious inability for complex multicellular forms to fossilize prior to the Ediacaran but rather to an absence of complex multicellular organisms prior to the Ediacaran and then mysterious sudden emergence.

  18. http://geology.geoscienceworld.....t/30/2/147
    many hundreds of jellyfish over 7 layers were fossilized in the Cambrian in coarse grain sand.

  19. I am more interested in the “explosion” of human civilisation about 5000 to 6000 years ago – Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China.

    Think more about this. And think of the emptiness of human fossils before that time.

    Conclusion: “explosion” of human species.

  20. In one of the Teaching Company courses on science Stephen Goldman was talking about human evolution. He is a fantastic source of knowledge on science but no friend of ID and ID never came up but he talked about how something unusual happened 10,000 years ago. There was an explosion of human activity. There were human activity from all of the world before this time.

    The conventional wisdom is that this is the time that humans started to take up agriculture in a big way and thus organized settlements and towns and trading. So there was a human population explosion about 10,000 years ago. The first big empires started forming about 6000 years ago in Mesopotamia.

  21. MatthewTan,

    Don’t forget the earliest American civilizations, which according to the book “1491″, had their own independent “Neolithic Revolution” about 10,000 years ago:

    Researchers have long known that a second, independent Neolithic Revolution occurred in Mesoamerica. The exact timing is uncertain – archeologists keep pushing the date back – but it is now thought to have occurred about ten thousand years ago, not long after the Middle East’s Neolithic Revolution.

    It goes on to discuss Maize and how it cannot really grow without human help, since the seeds are wrapped in the husk. Apparently the nearest wild relative to maize looks almost nothing like it, isn’t really fit for consumption, and takes a lot of imagination to envision maize descending from it. The book goes on to wonder how the ancients did their genetic engineering to domesticate the crop into the hundreds of varieties they eventually made (maize isn’t just yellow sweet corn – for Americans who have only seen that type.)

    Anyway, something certainly happened to allow human civilization to just explode onto the scene, with fully developed societies, writing, mathematics, agriculture and engineering.

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