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You Mean There Really Was a Cambrian Explosion?

Trilobite

Here is a story today about a “second” rise in oceanic oxygenation, a rise that allowed, the authors tell us, the ‘evolution’ of higher life forms. Here’s a portion of the link:

These widespread sulphidic conditions close to the continents, coupled with deeper waters that remained oxygen-free and iron-rich, would have placed major restrictions on both the timing and pace of biological evolution.

Dr Poulton, who led the research, explained: “It has traditionally been assumed that the first rise in atmospheric oxygen eventually led to oxygenation of the deep ocean around 1.8 billion years ago.

“This assumption has been called into question over recent years, and here we show that the ocean remained oxygen-free but became rich in toxic hydrogen-sulphide over an area that extended more than 100 km from the continents. It took a second major rise in atmospheric oxygen around 580 million years ago to oxygenate the deep ocean.

“This has major implications as it would have potentially restricted the evolution of higher life forms that require oxygen, explaining why animals appear so suddenly, relatively late in the geological record.”

Two points come to mind:

First, the authors are so much as saying that natural selection had a billion years to do something with life forms that can use hydrogen sulfide, and it couldn’t. Why not? I thought organisms that replicate can solve any old kind of problem thrown at them.

Second, and as a corollary to the first, ONLY when the oceans became oxygenated did life emerge. When did that happen? 580 million years ago. That’s right…..the Cambrian Explosion. This completely demolishes Darwin’s notion of gradualism, a tenet of his ‘theory’ that he steadfastly refused to give up.

Thus, Darwin was wrong. He was outrageously wrong. Why? Because, per Darwin, the ONLY explanation for the intracacies of the Cambrian fossils (e.g., the trilobite eye) presuming gradualism was at work, would have been a very long period of time PRIOR to the Cambrian in which more primitive forms ‘gradually’, via NS agency, developed their complexity. To maintain this position, Darwin had to ARGUE AGAINST the fossil record, which showed, even in his days, that there were no significant fossil layers prior to the Cambrian (yes, we know all about Epicarean, but they, too, are primitive, and they, too, are but 30 million years prior to the Cambrian). The data the authors present as much as stipulates that there were no prior “primitive life forms”, and that there was a ‘triggering event’ in the Cambrian time frame.

So, Darwin is wrong about gradualism. Darwin is wrong about the fossil record. But, of course, his theory is nevertheless correct. Huh…??!?

From the Origins: “In the sixth chapter I enumerated the chief objections which might be justly urged against the views maintained in this volume. . . . One, namely the distinctness of specific forms, and their not being blended together by inumerable transitional links, is a very obvious difficulty. . . . Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly doesn not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.” (My emphasis)

But, dear Darwin, there is no such imperfection of the geological column; rather, the sudden emergence of complex life forms is due to a suddenly changed oceanic condition—not the imperfection in the deposition of fossils due to geologic forces.

By Darwin’s own assessment—the “most obvious and gravest objection” remains standing—his “views” (I thought it was a theory?) are WRONG. Let’s just finish with Darwinism, OK?

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21 Responses to You Mean There Really Was a Cambrian Explosion?

  1. And let’s not forget that the inestimable Dr. Richard Dawkins affirmed the Darwin story in his The Blind Watchmaker. I don’t have that volume right in front of me at the moment, but I believe that in the first chapter Dawkins makes a huge point of admitting that, indeed, the cambrian fossils do appear as if they were just laid there with no evolutionary precursors. Of course, Dawkins was not arguing against there being precursors, only making the case of how silly it is to assume that just because it appears as if there were none, that doesn’t mean there really weren’t any. Then, Dawkins, like Darwin, goes on to explicate the wonders of gradualism.

    So, I wonder how gradualism works absent an oxygenated atmosphere in the billion or so years running up to the Cambrian? Or did the arrival of oxygen suddenly just grow all these magnificent critters from whatever life forms were choking on the newly arrived oxygen?

    I am curious, does the article indicate how long the oxygenation process might have taken?

  2. PaV,
    In the link you shared it says 580 MILLION but in your comment you say 580 BILLION. Probably justa typo but wnated to bring it to your attention.

    On a seperate note, I watch the Science Channel last night, a show called “Everything You Know About the Universe is Wrong” The topics of discussion were Dark matter, Dark Energy and Dark Flow. I couldn’t help but think that these were sciences equivalent to their “god of the gaps”. Instead of adjusting the theory or equation to fit what “is”. They try to change the “is” to fit their theories and equations.

  3. PaV,

    This excerpt from the article seems to give another clue to Ediacara biota

    These widespread sulphidic conditions close to the continents, coupled with deeper waters that remained oxygen-free and iron-rich, would have placed major restrictions on both the timing and pace of biological evolution.

    Dr Poulton, who led the research, explained: “It has traditionally been assumed that the first rise in atmospheric oxygen eventually led to oxygenation of the deep ocean around 1.8 billion years ago.

    “This assumption has been called into question over recent years, and here we show that the ocean remained oxygen-free but became rich in toxic hydrogen-sulphide over an area that extended more than 100 km from the continents. It took a second major rise in atmospheric oxygen around 580 million years ago to oxygenate the deep ocean.

    Yet the Ediacara biota thrived in the deep ocean environment:

    The mysterious Ediacara biota:
    Excerpt: “many questions remain. In particular, we might consider why the earliest known Ediacarans thrived in a deep ocean setting, when the oxygen apparently so vital for their evolution had already been abundant in shallow marine environments for millions of years.”
    http://www.nerc.ac.uk/publicat.....nimals.pdf

    My guess is that, as with photosynthetic bacteria, sulfate reducing bacteria, sponges, and jellyfish, Ediacara biota will ultimately be found to have a essential biogeochemical role in preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear in the Cambrian explosion by helping detoxify the deep oceans.

    further notes:

    Interestingly, “simple” Jellyfish and Sponges appeared suddenly in the fossil record a few ten million years before the Cambrian Explosion, and have remained virtually unchanged since they first appeared in the fossil record. Moreover, contrary to evolutionary thinking, Jellyfish and Sponges appear to have essential purpose in preparing the ecosystem for the Cambrian Explosion that was to follow.

    Marine animals cause a stir – July 2009
    Excerpt: Kakani Katija and John Dabiri used field measurements of jellyfish swimming in a remote island lake, combined with a new theoretical model, to demonstrate that the contribution of living organisms to ocean mixing via this mechanism is substantial — of the same order of magnitude as winds and tides. (Winds and tides, due to their prevention of stagnation, are known to be essential for life on earth.)
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....30-08.html

    Sponges Determine Coral Reef’s Nutrient Cycle
    Excerpt: Sponges, which have worldwide distribution in the oceans, filter water. They take up planktonic particles such as bacteria and excrete inorganic nutrients. In turn, these nutrients can facilitate the growth of marine plants and other organisms. Sponges filter water at a phenomenal rate: if the seawater were to remain stationary, the sponges would have completely pumped it away within five minutes,,,, these organisms play a key role in the marine nutrient cycle due to their incredible capacity to convert enormous quantities of organic plankton into inorganic material (nutrients). http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....085649.htm

    Fossils of all types of sponges alive today have been found virtually unchanged in rocks dated from 580 to 523 million years ago. Sponges with photosynthesizing endosymbionts produce up to three times more oxygen than they consume, as well as more organic matter than they consume. (Wikipedia)

    Barrel and Chimney Sponges Filtering Water – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7E1rq7zHLc

    The mysterious Ediacara biota, which appeared abruptly, alongside the Sponges and Jellyfish, in the pre-Cambrian fossil record, and which defy classification as either plant or animal, much less classification of essential symbiotic purpose, largely disappeared from the fossil record a few million years before the Cambrian Explosion and thus are not seen to be viable as precursors to the Cambrian Explosion.

    The Avalon Explosion:
    Excerpt: Ediacara fossils [575 to 542 million years ago (Ma)] represent Earth’s oldest known complex macroscopic life forms,,, A comprehensive quantitative analysis of these fossils indicates that the oldest Ediacara assemblage—the Avalon assemblage (575 to 565 Ma)—already encompassed the full range of Ediacara morphospace. (i.e. they appeared abruptly in the fossil record and retained their same basic shape and form throughout their tenure in the fossil record before they went extinct prior to the Cambrian explosion.)
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....19/5859/81

    If you page to the last six video clips on this site you may see animated videos of the mysterious Ediacara biota

  4. If you page to the last six video clips on this site you may see animated videos of the mysterious Ediacara biota

    http://www.lightproductionsvid.....imals.html

  5. wagenweg:

    The topics of discussion were Dark matter, Dark Energy and Dark Flow. I couldn’t help but think that these were sciences equivalent to their “god of the gaps”. Instead of adjusting the theory or equation to fit what “is”. They try to change the “is” to fit their theories and equations.

    No, to be fair, the astrophysicists see discrepancies in the data, and have proposed solutions to the problems that include unknown processes or entities. This approach has a long and very successful history, for instance in particle physics, with the search for, and discovery of numerous particles required to “make the data make sense”.

    If evolutionary biologists were really operating like the astrophysicists, they would be talking about the undiscovered properties of matter which lead to self-organization. In fact, many of them have done so. Dark Intelligence, anyone?

  6. As BA77 has already indirectly noted, the “Epicarean” should be “Ediacara” in the original post, except, perhaps if we are referring to a speciallized sub-species with refined eating habits :).

  7. SCheesman,

    Thank you for the explanation. And yes we do want to be fair. I guess my thoughts were that there could be other reasons for the descrepency in the data, reasons besides the ones that seem to work in the equations. Is that a possibility?

  8. SCheesman:

    Dark Intelligence!!! That’s pure genius! Is that your idea? Please, do copyright it immediately… :)

    I am serious, no joking. Maybe Dark Energy and Dark Intelligence are one and the same thing (or Being?). Let’s wait and see.

    Amyway, I absolutely agree with you that physicists are behaving much more correctly than biologist usually do. At least, they can recognize when they are completely unable to explain something, and they probably still understand the difference between theories and facts :) .

  9. Point 1:
    There is a limit to the size of an insect (breathing system) or bird (gravity).
    There is also a limit to the size of a mammal (heat transport and gravity). So, no, organisms that replicate cannot solve any old kind of problem thrown at them.
    Point 2
    The Cambrium Period started around 540 million years ago. Multicellular life had 40 million years to arrive.
    PS: I find it difficult to believe that someone mentioning Epicarean (instead of Ediacaran) is an expert in paleontology and especially Cambrian and pre-Cambrian life)

  10. Seqenenre:

    Maybe you are an expert in paleontology (I am not), but when you say:

    The Cambrium Period started around 540 million years ago. Multicellular life had 40 million years to arrive.

    What do you mean? That Ediacara fauna was unicellular?

  11. Seqenenre:

    So, no, organisms that replicate cannot solve any old kind of problem thrown at them.

    I am happy someone from the other side finally realizes that. Do you know how many times I had to counter the darwinist myth that “evolution can just go in any possible direction”, and that the target space of protein function is the space of “any possible function”?

    On the contrary, I have always affirmed what is reasonable and obvious: that, given a complex living context, there is no more “any possible function” or “any possible solution”, but only much more restricted functional targets, those subsets of possible functions and possible solutions which are compatible with the existing complex design, and useful in its context.

    In case you don’t notice, that is a very strong argument for ID.

  12. I am Dutch and in Dutch the Cambrian Period is called De Cambrium; that would explain that.
    Everyone realizes that the 4 fundamental forces of nature put their restraints on matter, dead or alive. Within these boundaries everything is possible, I assume. I have no reason to believe the opposite.

  13. Seqenenre:

    I am happy to know you are Dutch. Now, form european to european (I am italian): you have not answered my posts 10 and 11 (just kidding, you can take all the time you want :) )

  14. As for the other remark:
    I am not an expert in this subject, so I don’t contribute in a website on this subject. I respond to contributions.
    The Ediacaran fauna was multicellular. My most recent knowledge about life before 540 million years ago is from Martin Brasier’s book “Darwin’s Lost World, The Hidden History of Animal Life.” (Oxford University Press 2009)

  15. Seqenenre:

    The Ediacaran fauna was multicellular.

    No problem. Anybody can make a mistake.

    But you understand what that means: if Dr Poulton’s point is correct (maybe yes, maybe not), then multicellular life had only 0-5 Myears to arrive.

    I understand you have haith that “Within these boundaries everything is possible”, and I always respect faith…

    But… 5 million years at most? Your faith must really be strong!

  16. I never said the Ediacaran fauna was unicellular. I just mentioned its multicellularity because you assumed I thought it wasn’t.
    Why is 5 million years not enough?

  17. Seqenenre @12


    I am Dutch and in Dutch the Cambrian Period is called De Cambrium; that would explain that.

    Actually, in Dutch it`s called Het Cambrium. :p

  18. Seqenenre:

    Please, don’t play games. You wrote:

    “Point 2
    The Cambrium Period started around 540 million years ago. Multicellular life had 40 million years to arrive.”

    So, either you forgot momentarily that Ediacaran fauna appeared 575 million years ago, or you forgot momentarily that Ediacaran life was multicellular. Which is it?

    Anyway, you made a mistake. Again I repeat, no problem with that. But please don’t add new ones to the first.

    And no, definitely 5 million years is nor enough. If you were aware of the ID arguments about CSI, you would understand that even 5 billion years is not enough, but 5 million? Ridiculous!

  19. Seqenenre in post 9 you allude to gravity and heat transport as two of the limiting things on evolution (I can assure you there are many other “limits” that render neo-Darwinism absurd), Yet gravity is in itself found to be one of many finely tuned anthropic coincidences:

    The Fine-Tuning Design Argument
    Excerpt: 3. Calculations by Brandon Carter show that if gravity had been stronger or weaker by 1 part in 10 to the 40th power, then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist. This would most likely make life impossible. (Davies, 1984, p. 242.)
    http://www.discovery.org/a/91

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

    Fine-Tuning For Life In The Universe
    http://www.reasons.org/fine-tuning-life-universe

    Whereas heat transport (I suppose you are implying the heat transport of water here) is also another amazing “coincidence” that strongly implies Intelligent Design:

    The specific heat is the quantity of heat needed to raise the temperature of a unit mass of a material 10C. Water is VERY high compared to most common materials. Yet if water did not have this high specific heat life on earth would not be possible:

    Specific Heat
    Excerpt: What is the relevance of water’s high specific heat to life on Earth? By warming up only a few degrees, a large body of water can absorb and store a huge amount of heat from the sun in the daytime and during summer. At night and during winter, the gradual cooling water can warm the air. This is the reason coastal areas generally have milder climates than inland regions. The high specific heat of water also makes ocean temperatures quite stable, creating a favorable environment for marine life. Thus, because of its high specific heat, the water that covers most of planet Earth keeps temperature fluctuations within limits that permit life. Also, because organisms are made primarily of water, they are more able to resist changes in their own temperatures than if they were made of a liquid with a lower specific heat.
    http://www.sciencebyjones.com/specific_heat1.htm

    In fact Seqenenre the order in which the elements themselves were created by nucleosynthesis in stars strongly implies Intelligent design:

    Michael Denton – We Are Stardust – Uncanny Balance Of The Elements – Fred Hoyle Atheist to Deist/Theist – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003877

    The Role of Elements in Life Processes
    http://www.mii.org/periodic/LifeElement.php

    Thus Seqenenre, I would suggest, that if you are indeed trying to defend neo-Darwinism from us infidel IDists, that you would not appeal to foundational “limits” to physics in order to do so.

    Further notes:

    Fine Tuning Of Dark Energy and Mass of the Universe – Hugh Ross – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4007682

    Actually 1 in 10 to the 60th for the fine-tuning of the mass for the universe may equal just 1 Grain of Sand!
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-352314

  20. BA77
    This is what PaV wrote:

    “Two points come to mind:

    First, the authors are so much as saying that natural selection had a billion years to do something with life forms that can use hydrogen sulfide, and it couldn’t. Why not? I thought organisms that replicate can solve any old kind of problem thrown at them.”

    The last sentence simply is not true. The laws of nature put restrictions on animals, for example their size. Whatever the finer subtleties of your argument, PaV’s last sentence in this quote is wrong. That is my only point.

  21. Seqenenre, well at least you have a head start on the vast majority of neo-Darwinists who visit this site in that you do recognize some limits for Darwinism. My Question to you is will you recognize all limits to Darwinism that physics imposes? Or will you become forgiving of all things Darwinian when shown that it violates known principles of science? Just where will you draw the line?

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