Looking For Clues About The Cambrian Explosion

The sudden appearance of complex major body parts in the fossil record during this period has surprised many evolutionists over the years. So researchers haven taken a sample of a genome from an animal that lives on the Great Barrier Reef.

Nature News unravels this latest story…“With a simple body plan lacking organs, muscles and nerve cells, the sea sponge hardly seems a rich avenue for study. Yet this humble organism squats firmly at the doorway to one of life’s great mysteries: the leap to multicellularity…

The paper also mentions the discovery moves complexity back in time and that the genome contains “analogues of genes that, in organisms with a neuromuscular system, code for muscle tissue and neurons.” This seems very strange considering a sponge doesn’t have a neuromuscular system nor does it have a central nervous system so why would a sponge have all those genes?

In that same issue of Nature…

“The researchers also identified parts of the genome devoted to suppressing individual cells that multiply at the expense of the collective.  The presence of such genes indicates that the battle to stop rogue cells — in other words, cancer — is as old as multicellularity itself.  Such a link was recently hinted at by work showing that certain ‘founder genes’ that are associated with human cancers first arose at about the same time as metazoans appeared.  The demosponge genome shows that genes for cell suicide – those activated within an individual cell when something goes wrong – evolved before pathways that are activated by adjacent cells to dispatch a cancerous neighbour.”

This is not one calls good science but there is much imagination going on here. There is no evidence for such an ancestor only a claim there was one and no evidence for a mechanism by which genes having foresight would have emerged in single-celled creatures. All they claim is an a non-observational  hypothetical that says complexity started with a genetic toolkit must have been present in a sponge ancestor. The Cambrian Explosion happened according to this paper is because of “quantitative rather than qualitative differences” in the tools.  But does this really explain a trilobite, or a segmented worm, or animals like shellfish, crabs, the predator Anomalocaris, and all the other amazing creatures found at the point of the Cambrian explosion?  And why would a microbe come up with these tools in the first place, even to produce a sponge?

This hypothetical is some sort of mythical science fiction novel, not real science. The animal evolved “foresight” that it was able to come up with many complex innovations? The only thing that has “foresight” and also has innovations in complex situations is intelligence! What we are seeing here is an evolutionary story trying to explain away the highly complex designs made by God, and giving a mindless direction with a mechanism (known or unknown) the same ability as what intelligence can do which is not logical nor good science!

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13 thoughts on “Looking For Clues About The Cambrian Explosion

  1. Testing whether I can post …

    Michael, are you still banning me from my home address ?

  2. Michael

    The sudden appearance of complex major body parts in the fossil record during this period has surprised many evolutionists over the years. So researchers haven taken a sample of a genome from an animal that lives on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Michael, the Cambrian “explosion” was not “sudden.” It happened over a course of ten to twenty-five million years, and it was part of a longer period of diversification.

    A statistical analysis done based on fossils shows that even though the speciation rate did pick up, it was not unusual. . . . So much for “sudden.”

    http://icb.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/43/1/229

    — There are also transitions between cambrian fauna as well in during that time as well, worm-like animals with legs which show a transition to arthropod that retain ancesteral traits since we now know from trace fossils that arthropods were around at least 30 million years before the cambrain.

    Also, mounting fossil evidence and genetic evidence is actually causing some scientists to question whether the Cambrian “explosion” was even a real event!!!

    I love it when Creationists pull out the Cambrian “explosion,” because it shows how little they know about the fossil record.

    But does this really explain a trilobite, or a segmented worm, or animals like shellfish, crabs, the predator Anomalocaris, and all the other amazing creatures found at the point of the Cambrian explosion?

    Michael, Trilobites do not appear at the base of the Cambrian strata. They appear 15 million years after it starts in the fossil record. Also, there ARE plausible ancestors to the Trilibites from the Precambrian, such as Parvancorina and Spriggina floundersi. I mentioned these plausible ancestors before, Michael, so I don’t buy for a minute that you do not know of them.

    Link: http://www.trilobites.info/origins.htm

    Are you going to ignore this comment? I think you probably will.

  3. Michael,

    The Cambrian fauna did not appear “suddenly.” Statistical analyisis shows that even though speciation picked up during the cambrian, it was not unusually faster. ( See Taking the Pulse of the Cambrian Radiation, by Bruce S. Lieberman. )

    Also, the Cambrian explosion lasted for 10 to 25 million years, and it was part of a longer period of diversification. . . That is not “sudden,” Michael.

    But does this really explain a trilobite, or a segmented worm, or animals like shellfish, crabs, the predator Anomalocaris, and all the other amazing creatures found at the point of the Cambrian explosion?

    Trilobites are not “found at the point of the Cambrian explosion.” The do not even appear until 15 million years after it starts. Not to mention, there are plausible pre-cambrian ancestors to trilibites such as Spriggina floundersi and Parvancorina.

  4. As the duty bad guy, I’ll post the hoary old questions again.

    Oyez, oyez!

    (1) Blog readership numbers ?

    (2) Your qualifications to discuss any scientific subject, in response to the challenge to Olorin.

    (3) A substantive review of Signature in the Cell, promised for August 2009.

    This might get me banned again for “cutting and pasting”, depending upon how Michael feels about refusing to defend claims that he himself has made.

    .

    It is interesting that this post on the Cambrian involves an advance in the study of cancer as an application of evolutionary research. Good pick, Michael!

  5. Michael, before you crow too much about the Cambrian as evidence of biblical creation, please recall that your argument entails the creation of these body plans 550 million years ago, which is 100,000 times the time that your myth allows for the age of the entire universe. You argument also recognizes that they Cambrian phyla can be shown to have appeared long before other “more advanced” animals. How does this fit in with the biblical total of 6 days for the creation of all living organisms?

    It certainly is a good thing that creationists do not feel bound by consistency. Yet another difference between creationism and science, where everythuing must fit together into a coherent whole.

  6. The Cambrian explosion is more accurately the Cambrian “Short fuse” since it wasn’t even very explosive.

    A look at the fossil record, particularly more recent fossil finds show that complex life was already developing tens of millions of years before the Cambrian even began.

    1. We have trace-fossils of arthropods (discovered in Nevada) in Precambrian strata, 30 million years before the Cambrian. . . This makes precambrian ancestors to the Cambrian fauna VERY plausable.

    2. We have the Ediacaran Fauna which are multi-cellular life before the Cambrian.

    3. We have worm burrows long before the Cambrian even started.

    4. We have Bilaterian life and complex embryos discovered in the Doushantau Diposit in China dating to 40 to 55 million years before the Cambrian.

    5. We have precambrian fauna like Spriggina and Parvocarina
    which are precursors to Cambrian fauna.

    6. Statistical Analysis done by Bruce S. Lieberman shows that the Cambrian explosion was not unusually fast.

    7. A new fossil discovery now places some complex life at 2.1 billion years ago!!!

    I have already repeated myself on many of these points. . . Michael, I wish you would at least take on this on. . .

    I even wrote on this in a blog post.

    http://evolutionid.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/the-truth-on-the-cambrian-explosion/

  7. —- And Michael.

    It really nags me that you implied that Trilobites appear as soon as the Cambrian “explosion” started. . . They did not.

    Just to give you a timeline:

    1. The Cambrian started 543 million years ago,

    2. The Cambrian “explosion” itself started 535 million years ago.

    3. The first trilobites appear in the fossil record 521 million years ago. (That is, they appear 14 to 15 million years after the Cambrian “explosion” started.)

    Just want to make that clear….

  8. Among the interesting facts about the Cambrian is that 100 of the 37 phyla of animals originated near that time.

    (Reminds me of the storr of th3e wizard economist, who had correctly predicted 15 of the past 9 recessions.)

  9. The presence of such genes indicates that the battle to stop rogue cells — in other words, cancer — is as old as multicellularity itself. Such a link was recently hinted at by work showing that certain ‘founder genes’ that are associated with human cancers first arose at about the same time as metazoans appeared.

    ………

    “Cancer was not the original motivation for this work,” says Srivastava. “But now we can learn about the ways in which multicellular animals have to regulate themselves and the original function of these genes.” —Nature news

    Two points that Michael seems to have overlooked.

    First, a practical application of evolutionary research. Michael is fond of complaining that millions or billions of our hard-earned tax dollars are wasted trying to “prove” evolution. We’re way past the stage where creationism is still stuck after 3 centuries—trying to confirm a theory. We’re into finding out how evolution occurred in specific situations, with the ultimate object of applications to human needs.

    Well, here’s a fruit of evolutionary research. Nothing so dramatic as a cure for cancer—yet a promising lead, one that no one would have thought of without investigating the evolution of multicellularity. I have mentioned several other recent practical applications, such as repairing congenital heart defects in light of evolution of the 4-chambered heart from the 3-chamber variety, and a new class of taste modulators arising from study of the evolution of taste buds.

    Meanwhile creationists have employed their principles to develop leads for the following diseases: (a) possession by demons, (b) —uh— what was that other one, again?

    Second, the lead toward cancer causation came out of research in a completely different field, not related to cancer at all. Michael makes much of a muchness about deploying our scientific funding in better ways. If Michael had any inkling of the history of science and technology, he might appreciate that one rarely advances by a brute-force frontal attack on a technological problem. The answer is more often than not serendipitous and unexpected. If you doubt that, read some science-fiction stories from the 1950s and note how accurately they predicted personal computers, the internet, digital photography—to name just a few inventions.

    So, once again, Michael, tell us how evolutionary research is a waste of money, and tell us how you would allocate these research funds. Into studying creationism, perhaps? Bwahahahahaaaahaaaa.

  10. The paper also mentions the discovery moves complexity back in time and that the genome contains ,i.“analogues of genes that, in organisms with a neuromuscular system, code for muscle tissue and neurons.” This seems very strange considering a sponge doesn’t have a neuromuscular system nor does it have a central nervous system so why would a sponge have all those genes?

    Perhaps someday even Michael will understand the time scale of evolution, and get out of the rut that humans had to evolve from sponges in two days, and sponges had to evolve from creationists in just one additional day. From the beginning of life 3,500 million years ago, all life was boringly unicellular for about 2,800 million years. So the entire period since the first multicellular organism of any kind is only 1/5 of the total. That is, single cells had 5 times as long to evolve a full panoply of genes, proteins, enzymes, ans salad dressings as it took to go from the first multicellular proto-sponge to millions of different plants to put the dressings on.

    Did you think that all these single-celled critters were just basking on the beach all that time? No. Plants didn’t have to evolve photosynthesis all over again. All they had to do was package the process in a leaf. Animals didn’t have to evolve eyes from scratch—primitive bacteria already had opsin proteins that were sensitive to light. All they had to do was to organize them into a package that could focus the sunbeams. That is, bacteria, archaea, and primitive eukaryotes already had analogs of most of the genes that plants, animals, and fungi have today. There were TWO stages of evolutionary diversity: genetic for 2.800 My among the protists, then anatomical up through the present. (Note, however, that genetic evolution has not ceased—we still see bacteria evolving reactions to digest nylon and PCB transformer oils, for example.)

    Then comes Michael’s next misunderstanding of evolution. Why would a sponge have genes for muscles and neurons, but not have muscles and neurons, he frowns. First, Michael has misread his quotation. Nature News says that the sponge has “analogs” of muscle and neuron genes—that is, genes that code for proteins that build tissue that is similar to muscles and neurons. Muscle cells are contractile. The analogous cells in the sponge can change their shape when stimulated. Like a muscle cell. Neurons transmit potential differences from ion gradients. The analogous sponge cells create a voltage from an ion channel. They “are” not muscle and neural cells, they are “like ” them—a few more mutations yet to go. (Also don’t forget that musccle cells and neurons are similar to each other, which Michael should know, after studying biology for 18 years.)

    So, “why would a sponge have all those genes”? Why would bacteria have opsin proteins if it had no eyes where they could be used as photoreceptor? Because opsins are also signaling molecules that bacteria employ to communicate with each other. These proteins also happen to be light sensitive. Some years before digital cameras chips were invented, we used to make primitive imagers from static memory chips by prying the lids off and gluing in a lens. Now why did memory chip designers provide light-detection capabilities in their chips long befoere anything existed to use them? THEY DIDN’T. Silicon memory chips HAPPEN TO BE light sensitive. Proteins are the same way; most proteins have multiple capabilities, multiple functions.

    Michael is so bound by his teleological mode of thought that he cannot understand that something might be used for something other than its original function—what we cal cooption, exaptation, or preadaptation. Last year my wife inadvertently “baked” a thin plastic container in the oven. After it had dripped through the rack and came out, she looked at it and framed it. Now it hangs on the wall as an objet d’art. Now, what kind of oven has that kind of artistic ability? Its designers must have foreseen it.

    So, two more aspects of evolution where creationists stymie themselves: (a) a vast amount of time was available to develop intra-cellular processes before multicellularity even got its feet wet; and (b) using something for a function other than its original purpose is not sinful.

  11. One of ichael’s sources for this post may have been “Are Sea Sponges Mostly Human?” a recent article from the ICR.

    This article repeats one odf the fundamental flaws of creationist thinking about evolution: That complexity had to increase gradually in all aspects at the same time. That, for example, the cells of “primitive” animals must have been simpler than the cells of modern animals—that evolution requires that genes increase in complexity, and so forth.

    Yet another example of the old saw that you can’t reason someone out of a position that he didn’t reason himself into.

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