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Priapulids challenge the cone of increasing diversity concept

Darwin’s solitary illustration of evolutionary branching has left a lasting impression in the minds of readers. From an ancestral form, speciation occurs and the diversity of descendants increases. This can be visualised as a cone of morphological variation, extending from the source. However, the Cambrian Explosion provides empirical evidence against this concept, as a large number of organisms appear abruptly. (For more, see here) Yet it has been tempting for Darwinists to interpret the Cambrian species in terms of a number of cones of increasing diversity that all have their origins deeper in the Precambrian. This was something Stephen Jay Gould attempted to counter by proposing an “inverted cone” model. But there is a need for a third model to be on the table for consideration. For some years, it has been recognised that two groups of animals have very similar disparities in the Cambrian and the Recent. These are the arthropods and the priapulid worms.

“Both are reported to have comparable morphological disparity in the Cambrian and the Recent. This is important for our understanding of the manner in which metazoans radiated, because it implies that Cambrian animals had already explored a variety of ‘design’ options similar to that realized by their present-day counterparts. [. . .] This challenges the traditional ‘cone of increasing diversity’ (or, more precisely, it shifts this evolutionary model back in time) in favour of an approximately cylindrical model of bodyplan diversity from the Cambrian to the Recent. It also implies that the magnitude of Cambrian morphological diversity requires some form of explanation: whether in terms of Pre-Cambrian evolution at a small size, the gradual Pre-Cambrian differentiation of internal bodyplans decoupled from the appearance of external (and fossilizable) characters in the Cambrian, or some other mechanism.” (p.2057)

For more, go here.

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19 Responses to Priapulids challenge the cone of increasing diversity concept

  1. What is your best estimate of the time over which the Cambrian explosion occurred?

  2. Of related note:

    New fossils suggest ancient origins of modern-day deep-sea animals – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: A collection of fossil animals discovered off the coast of Florida suggests that present day deep-sea fauna like sea urchins, starfish and sea cucumbers may have evolved earlier than previously believed and survived periods of mass extinctions similar to those that wiped out the dinosaurs.,,,
    Previously, researchers believed that these present-day animals evolved in the relatively recent past, following at least two periods of mass extinction caused by changes in their oceanic environment. The new fossil collection described in this study predates the oldest known records of the present-day fauna. “We were amazed to see that a 114 million year old deep-sea assemblage was so strikingly similar to the modern equivalents”, says lead author Ben Thuy. According to the authors, this evidence shows that the ancestors of modern deep-sea animals have lived in these deep waters for much longer than previously thought. That this collection of fossils appears to have survived several drastic changes in oceanic climates also suggests that deep-sea biodiversity may be more resilient than shallow-water life forms, and more resistant to extinction events than previously thought.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-10-f.....imals.html

    verse:

    “So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind,…” (See: Genesis 1:21 NKJV)

  3. also of note:

    Darwin’s Legacy – Donald R. Prothero – February 2012
    Excerpt: In my dissertation on the incredibly abundant and well preserved fossil mammals of the Big Badlands of the High Plains, I had over 160 well-dated, well-sampled lineages of mammals, so I could evaluate the relative frequency of gradualism versus stasis in an entire regional fauna. …
    it was clear that nearly every lineage showed stasis, with one minor example of gradual size reduction in the little oreodont Miniochoerus. I could point to this data set and make the case for the prevalence of stasis without any criticism of bias in my sampling. More importantly, the fossil mammals showed no sign of responding to the biggest climate change of the past 50 million years (the Eocene-Oligocene transition, when glaciers appeared in Antarctica after 200 million years). In North America, dense forests gave way to open scrublands, crocodiles and pond turtles were replaced by land tortoises, and the snails changed from those typical of Nicaragua to those of Baja California. Yet out of all the 160 lineages of mammals in this time interval, there was virtually no response.”,,,
    In four of the biggest climatic-vegetational events of the last 50 million years, the mammals and birds show no noticeable change in response to changing climates. No matter how many presentations I give where I show these data, no one (including myself) has a good explanation yet for such widespread stasis despite the obvious selective pressures of changing climate.
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/12-02-15/#feature

  4. Bornagain77: thanks for the post.

    What is your best estimate of the time over which the Cambrian explosion occurred?

  5. The earliest Cambrian record of animals and ocean geochemical change
    Adam C. Maloof, Susannah M. Porter, John L. Moore, Frank O. Dudas, Samuel A. Bowring, John A. Higgins, David A. Fike, and Michael P. Eddy
    Geological Society of America Bulletin, November 2010, v. 122, p. 1731-1774 | doi:10.1130/B30346.1
    Abstract: The Cambrian diversification of animals was long thought to have begun with an explosive phase at the start of the Tommotian Age. Recent stratigraphic discoveries, however, suggest that many taxa appeared in the older Nemakit-Daldynian Age, and that the diversification was more gradual. [. . .] The time line suggests that the diversification of skeletal animals began early in the Nemakit-Daldynian, with much of the diversity appearing by the middle of the age. Fossil first appearances occurred in three pulses, with a small pulse in the earliest Nemakit-Daldynian (ca. 540-538 Ma), a larger pulse in the mid- to late Nemakit-Daldynian (ca. 534-530 Ma), and a moderate pulse in the Tommotian (ca. 524-522 Ma). These pulses are associated with rapid reorganizations of the carbon cycle, and are superimposed on long-term increases in sea level and the hydrothermal flux of Sr.

    also of note:

    Macroscopic life in the Palaeoproterozoic – July 2010
    Excerpt: The Ediacaran fauna shows that soft-bodied animals were preserved in the Precambrian, even in coarse sandstone beds, suggesting that (the hypothetical transitional) fossils are not found because they were not there.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....proterozoi

    Response to John Wise – October 2010
    “So, where then are those ancestors? Fossil preservation conditions were adequate to preserve animals such as jellyfish, corals, and sponges, as well as the Ediacaran fauna. It does not appear that scarcity is a fault of the fossil record.”
    Sean Carroll developmental biologist
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....38811.html

    At North Dakota State University, Presenting the Positive Case for Design – Casey Luskin – February 14, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, Simon Conway Morris notes in his book Crucible of Creation that in the Burgess Shale fossil collections which document the Cambrian explosion, “about 95 per cent are either soft-bodied or have thin skeletons.” [p. 140].
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56351.html

    “—a number of the body plans that today characterize major taxa first appear during or ‘shortly’ before the interval from about 530 to 520 Ma,—.” – Valentine, James W., David Jablonski and Douglas H. Erwin. Fossils, molecules and embryos: new perspectives on the Cambrian explosion. Development 126. 1999.

    The ‘real work’ of the beginning of the Cambrian Explosion may in actuality be as short as a two to three million year time frame (Ross: Creation as Science 2006) which is well within what is termed the ‘geologic resolution time’. ‘Geologic resolution time’ simply means the time frame for the main part of the Cambrian Explosion apparently can’t be shortened any further due to limitations of our accurately dating this ancient time period more precisely.

    “The Cambrian Explosion was so short that it is below the resolution of the fossil record. It could have happened overnight. So we don’t know the duration of the Cambrian Explosion. We just know that it was very, very, fast.”
    Jonathan Wells – Darwin’s Dilemma Quote

    It is amazing the level of denial that evolutionists will display when confronted with this evidence for a complete lack of transitional fossils to the Cambrian explosion, yet Dr. Wells points out that, even if we grant the most generous assumptions for time to evolutionists (up to allowing billions years), we still run into insurmountable problems from the information perspective:

    Storming the Beaches of Norman – Jonathan Wells
    Excerpt: Even if the Cambrian explosion had lasted 40 million years, as Westrop had claimed, there would not have been enough time for unguided processes to produce the enormous amount of specified complexity in the DNA of the animal phyla.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....orman.html

    And, despite what many evolutionists believe, recent discoveries are only amplifying this ‘suddenness of novelty’ problem for them:

    More Pow in the Cambrian Explosion – May 2010
    Excerpt: Scientists have found more fossil evidence for sudden emergence of animal body plans in the Cambrian strata.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100511a

    The unscientific hegemony of uniformitarianism – David Tyler – 2011
    Excerpt: The summary of results for phyla is as follows. The pattern reinforces earlier research that concluded the Explosion is not an artefact of sampling. Much the same finding applies to the appearance of classes.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....niformitar

    All skeletalised metazoan phyla appeared in the Cambrian – David Tyler – 2010
    Excerpt: This means that Cambrian strata can be said to record examples of all the skeletalized metazoan phyla.,,, Subsequent periods of Earth history may have had more dramatic radiations at the Order, Class or Family level, but there were no further bauplan innovations affecting skeletalized metazoan organisms.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....a_appeared

  6. Bornagain77: thanks again for your post, but can you answer the question:

    What is your best estimate of the time over which the Cambrian explosion occurred?

    I am asking for your estimate of the time involved in the Cambrian explosion.

  7. Why in the world are you asking for my personal estimate??? Like you I am at the mercy of the estimates given in peer review (which I cited the best I know of for you!)! My personal opinion coupled with the price of a postage stamp will get you exactly one postage stamp!

  8. Bornagain posted this:

    Why in the world are you asking for my personal estimate???

    Because I want to know what you think about the length of time of the Cambrian explosion. How long do you think was involved?

  9. My ‘personal opinion’ (postage stamp!) is that God created, much like the creation of the universe, each individual ‘parent kind’ fairly instantaneously, complete with ‘front loaded’ information for a fairly rapid diversification from that initial parent kind into groups, or ‘strains’, of sub-species into particular environments, with loss of diversity over long periods of time for the entire ‘kind’ of species with the more extreme divergences going extinct more quickly than the main body,,, (which is exactly what we see in the fossil record) My ‘estimate’ for how long God took in this method of introducing all the different lifeforms in the Cambrian period is 5 to 15 million years with error bars, due to the problem of ‘geologic resolution, of 5 million years.

  10. Bornagain77 posted this:

    My ‘personal opinion’ (postage stamp!) is that God created, much like the creation of the universe, each individual ‘parent kind’ fairly instantaneously, complete with ‘front loaded’ information for a fairly rapid diversification from that initial parent kind into groups, or ‘strains’, of sub-species into particular environments, with loss of diversity over long periods of time for the entire ‘kind’ of species with the more extreme divergences going extinct more quickly than the main body,,, (which is exactly what we see in the fossil record) My ‘estimate’ for how long God took in this method of introducing all the different lifeforms in the Cambrian period is 5 to 15 million years with error bars, due to the problem of ‘geologic resolution, of 5 million years.

    Have I got it right? You are claiming that the Cambrian explosion occurred in 5 million years?

  11. Actually my ‘postage stamp’ timeframe for the Cambrian explosion, including the geologic resolution error bars, is 0 to 20 million years.

    My ‘estimate’ for how long God took in this method of introducing all the different lifeforms in the Cambrian period is 5 to 15 million years with error bars, due to the problem of ‘geologic resolution, of 5 million years.

    Do you have trouble reading what I wrote or are you, more likely, just playing games trying to catch me on a minor mistake I may have made??? without truly looking, in unbiased fashion, at the state of evidence as it sits?,,, The point being, regardless of any mistakes in the time-frame I, in my very unqualified knowledge on the subject, may have made, is that neo-Darwinists have ZERO compelling evidence as to the transitional forms they need to explain the sudden appearance of all the different, and distinct, phyla in such a short time! Nor do they have any demonstrated mechanism to explain the appearance of just one novel protein during that time (or even one novel protein appearing during the entire history of earth!)

    i.e.:

    This following paper is interesting for the authors try their level best to ‘stretch the runway’ for the Cambrian explosion to 20 million years, which even if true (which I would have no problem with) as to the duration of the Cambrian explosion, is still far too short of a ‘runway’ for neo-Darwinism to make a successful ‘takeoff’ as a valid scientific theory in explaining the origination of such massive amounts of biological information in the Cambrian (Darwinism has yet to demonstrate the appearance of even one novel protein!). Furthermore, the authors resorted, at one point in their paper, to pointing out that other anomalies (i.e. miracles) of sudden appearance and rapid diversity occurred for different lifeforms in the fossil record. It seems that their ‘rationalization’ in all this is this, ‘if other ‘miracles’ happened in the fossil record then the Cambrian explosion is not really all that ‘miraculous’ to explain’. Unfortunately for them science does not work by pointing to other unexplained mysteries as an explanation for the unexplained mystery one is currently working on.

    Cambrian Explosion Solved? – October 2010
    Excerpt: Looking at the big picture, though, they argued that the Cambrian explosion was really not all that special; other parts of the fossil record show similar patterns: “the observation that disparity reaches its peak early in a group’s history seems to reflect a general phenomenon, also observed in plants (Boyce, 2005), the Ediacara biota (Shen et al., 2008), Precambrian microfossils (Huntley et al., 2006), and within many individual animal clades, such as crinoids (Foote, 1997), gastropods (Wagner, 1995), and ungulates (Jernvall et al., 1996). Although of significant interest, this high disparity soon after a group’s appearance is not unique to the Cambrian,” they said.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20101031a

    further notes:

    All skeletalised metazoan phyla appeared in the Cambrian – David Tyler – 2010
    Excerpt: This means that Cambrian strata can be said to record examples of all the skeletalized metazoan phyla.,,, Subsequent periods of Earth history may have had more dramatic radiations at the Order, Class or Family level, but there were no further bauplan innovations affecting skeletalized metazoan organisms.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....a_appeared

    Origin of Phyla – The Fossil Evidence – Timeline Graphs
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....#038;hl=en

    Deepening Darwin’s Dilemma – Jonathan Wells – The Cambrian Explosion – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4154263

    The unscientific hegemony of uniformitarianism – David Tyler – May 2011
    Excerpt: The pervasive pattern of natural history: disparity precedes diversity,,,, The summary of results for phyla is as follows. The pattern reinforces earlier research that concluded the Explosion is not an artefact of sampling. Much the same finding applies to the appearance of classes. These data are presented in Figures 1 and 2 in the paper.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....niformitar

    “The sweep of anatomical diversity reached a maximum right after the initial diversification of multicellular animals. The later history of life proceeded by elimination not expansion.”
    Stephen J. Gould, Harvard, Wonderful Life, 1989, p.46

    Challenging Fossil of a Little Fish
    “In Chen’s view, his evidence supports a history of life that runs opposite to the standard evolutionary tree diagrams, a progression he calls top-down evolution.” Jun-Yuan Chen is professor at the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology and Geology
    http://www.fredheeren.com/boston.htm

    In Explaining the Cambrian Explosion, Has the TalkOrigins Archive Resolved Darwin’s Dilemma? – JonathanM – May 2012
    Excerpt: it is the pattern of morphological disparity preceding diversity that is fundamentally at odds with the neo-Darwinian scenario of gradualism. All of the major differences (i.e. the higher taxonomic categories such as phyla) appear first in the fossil record and then the lesser taxonomic categories such as classes, orders, families, genera and species appear later. On the Darwinian view, one would expect to see all of the major differences in body plan appear only after numerous small-scale speciation events. But this is not what we observe.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....59171.html

  12. of note:

    When Theory and Experiment Collide — April 16th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied.
    http://www.biologicinstitute.o.....nt-collide

  13. I don’t think any of you appreciate the artistic contribution to science vouchsafed by the Darwinists. For them, science is as much an art as a science – only just not representational art.

    In short, they are to empirical science as Picasso is to the Old Masters. Where is your imagination?!?!

  14. Bornagain77 posted this link:

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc…..#038;hl=en

    These graphs are fascinating. What are the sources of the Darwinian predictions that they illustrate (meaning what data are they based upon)?

  15. What are the sources of the Darwinian predictions that they illustrate (meaning what data are they based upon)?

    Well, Darwin’s prediction for the Cambrian fossil record is here:

    Darwin’s Dilemma in Darwin’s own words:

    On the sudden Appearance of Groups of allied Species in the lowest known Fossiliferous Strata.
    There is another and allied difficulty, which is much more serious. I allude to the manner in which many species in several of the main divisions of the animal kingdom suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks. Most of the arguments which have convinced me that all the existing species of the same group are descended from a single progenitor, apply with nearly equal force to the earliest known species. For instance, it cannot be doubted that all the Silurian trilobites are descended from some one crustacean, which must have lived long before the Silurian age, and which probably differed greatly from any known animal. Some of the most ancient Silurian animals, as the Nautilus, Lingula, &c., do not differ much from living species; and it cannot on our theory be supposed, that these old species were the progenitors of all the species belonging to the same groups which have subsequently appeared, for they are not in any degree intermediate in character.

    Consequently, if the theory be true, it is indisputable that, before the lowest Silurian or Cambrian stratum was deposited long periods elapsed, as long as, or probably far longer than, the whole interval from the Cambrian age to the present day; and that during these vast periods the world swarmed with living creatures…

    To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods, I can give no satisfactory answer… the difficulty of assigning any good reason for the absence beneath the Upper Cambrian formations of vast piles of strata rich in fossils is very great. It does not seem probable that the most ancient beds have been quite worn away by denudation, or that their fossils have been wholly obliterated by metamorphic action, for if this had been the case we should have found only small remnants of the formations next succeeding them in age, and these would always have existed in a partially metamorphosed condition. But the descriptions which we possess of the Silurian deposits over immense territories in Russia and in North America, do not support the view, that the older a formation is, the more it has invariably suffered extreme denudation and metamorphism.

    The case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained. [emphasis added]

    —Chapter IX, “On the Imperfection of the Geological Record,” On the Origin of Species, fifth edition (1869), pp. 378-381.

    Darwin’s illustration of an evolutionary tree, from The Origin of Species (1859).
    http://diogenesii.files.wordpr.....iagram.jpg

    Of related note:

    The Explosive Appearance of Skeletal Designs – Dr. Fazale Rana
    Excerpt: Based on fossils found in southern China and in the Burgess Shale deposits of the Canadian Rockies, biologists know that nearly all the animal phyla (more than 70) known to exist throughout the earth’s history appeared essentially at once about 540 million years ago.,,, This event, known as the Cambrian “Explosion”, occurred over an extremely narrow window of geological time (~5-10 million years based on western scientific literature and less than 3 million years based on Chinese scientific literature).3 Since then, arguably no new animal phyla have appeared. In fact, about 40 animal phyla have disappeared since that time.,,, researchers consider the skeletal designs that do show up during the Cambrian Explosion essentially maximal in number.
    http://www.reasons.org/article.....al-designs

    Darwin’s Dilemma – Excellent Cambrian Explosion Movie
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWEsW7bO8P4

    Cambrian and Ediacara Biota – Animated Video Snapshot
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8554429

    “Without gradualness in these cases, we are back to a miracle,”
    Richard Dawkins – River Out Of Eden pg. 83

  16. Guys help me out here;
    This find finally falsifies the Darwinian account that Natural selection, random mutation and genetic drift has the capability to take a simple organism to a complex one. If anything these findings prove that NS, RM and drift does just the opposite.

    If this is the case I’m sure it means Darwinian evolution is now debunked.

    I’m not sure if I have just lost my marbles but it clearly indicates to me that complexity is not from them!

  17. Andre @ 16: Falsify is too strong – on the basis of this particular research. However, showing that Darwinism is irrelevant is not too strong. This conclusion is drawn from the Cambrian Explosion and subsequent diversity trends.
    The research warrants an extensive discussion of alternatives to Darwinism, something that appears to be firmly resisted by leading educationalists and numerous vocal scientists.
    You have not lost your marbles!

    bornagain77: thanks for your sterling efforts to set out the extensive evidence, and weight of scholarly opinion, to justify the uniqueness of the Cambrian Explosion.

    timothya @ 4: you have had an honest response from bornagain77. My blog draws on observed diversifications – in the Cambrian and the Recent. The evidence base is the best we have. The issue of timescales is bypassed. No doubt the duration of the “Explosion” is an interesting question, but the argument of the blog does not rest on any specific figure assigned to the timescale. What worries me is that there are still numerous darwinist die-hards who are reluctant to acknowledge that the “Explosion” is real and they do not accept that it provides evidence that Darwinism is irrelevant as a causal mechanism.

  18. BA77, I have been interested in exploring this particular subject of late. As always your links are appreciated.

  19. While YEC does not accept the premise behind the cAmbrian explosion, geology ideas, still diversity is a great clue.
    YEV would see diversity was created instantly or could happen quickly to fill up the earth.
    The amazon is the true state nature. Where diversity is fantastic in kinds and types etc. elsewhere poverty rules and misleads investigation.
    The cichlid fishes of africa is the truth of diversity being quick and great.
    yes mechanisms are needed but its reasonable to see diversity was greatest at any earliest point we can get evidence for and later attrition leaves what is now here.
    Yes complexity of that diversity belies ideas of primitive to smart.
    I remember they tried to say marsupials were more primitive then placentals.
    A intermediate type almost.
    Upon further recent investigation they are as complex as anyone.
    they are not in between reptiles and mammals after all.
    Of coarese this YEC insists marsupials are just placentals with pouches and so explains their biogeography and spot on look alikeness to other creatures on earth.

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