Geologists Tinker With The Cambrian Explosion Data

One of the most extensive defenses of Darwinian evolution against the Cambrian explosion (the lowest layers of fossil-bearing strata) since Charles Marshall’s attempt to explain it back in 2006 where he writes

“The Cambrian “explosion,” or radiation, is perhaps the most significant evolutionary transition seen in the fossil record.  Essentially all of the readily fossilizable animal body plans first appear in the fossil record during this interval (Valentine 2002).  We move from the depths of the Precambrian world, where the sedimentary record is essentially devoid of animal fossils, to the Phanerozoic, where animal life leaves pervasive evidence of its existence, both as body fossils and as disturbers of the sediment.”

“Numerous explanations for the Cambrian “explosion” have been posited (note here that I am not considering here in any detail explanations for the precursor to the Cambrian “explosion,” the Ediacaran radiation).  Classification of this rich panoply of explanations is somewhat arbitrary but typically explanations center on one of the following factors: (a) changes in the abiotic environment, (b) changes in the genetic or developmental capacity of the taxa involved, or (c) changes in the biotic environment, i.e., in ecology.”

“All of these factors must have played a role, but how important was each?  To what extent did the Cambrian “explosion” flow from an interaction between them?  How might we develop a conceptual framework for understanding that interaction?  Developing a coherent explanation for the Cambrian “explosion” faces several challenges….”

The Cambrian has been a thorn in evolution because it falsifies Darwinian claims about a slow gradual process and evolutionary scientists for years have been working on trying to explain away the sudden appearances of fully structured and complex animals found in the lower strata. Since fossils cannot be revised observationally, tinkering with the time line and simplifying was the focus of this recent paper

“He writes “[w]e should not forget that only a small portion of the world is known with accuracy” (Darwin, 1859, p. 307).  It is this explanation—the incompleteness of our knowledge—that has turned out to be closer to the truth.  The problem of missing fossil ancestors was solved by the discovery of the Precambrian fossil record, the problem that nearly all the animal phyla appear in the Lower Cambrian with no evidence of intermediate taxa was solved by the recognition that most Lower Cambrian fossils represent stem-groups of living phyla, and the problem of the explosive diversification of animals at the start of the Tommotian was solved by improved correlation and radiometric dating of Lower Cambrian sequences—to which we contribute here—showing that this diversification was drawn out over more than 20 m.y.”

Radiometric dating with comparisons of calcium carbonate isotopes in fossil shells were used to determine a new time line. By expanding the time line it would quiet down the explosion in the Cambrian period. So geologists from Princeton, MIT, UC Santa Barbara, and Washington University made their assumptions with calcium carbonate isotopes which they argued changes ocean chemistry and thus gave us the appearance of an explosion.

What is even more interesting, they resort in making a fraudulent claim which is very misleading to the public.  “The problem of missing fossil ancestors was solved by the discovery of the Precambrian fossil record…” Some may also see this as a bluff of what hand they really have. You see, in the introduction of the paper, it was a different story…

“Despite abundant evidence for a variety of life extending back to at least 3.5 Ga, Precambrian fossils mostly record the evolution of bacteria and microbial eukaryotes.  The earliest evidence for animals predates the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary by only ~100 m.y.  (Xiao et al., 1998; Yin et al., 2007; Love et al., 2009, Maloof et al., 2010b), and the few unquestioned examples of Precambrian Bilateria are <15 m.y. older than the beginning of the Cambrian (Fedonkin and Waggoner, 1997; Martin et al., 2000; Jensen, 2003; Droser et al., 2005).”

“Significant increases in trace fossil diversity and complexity across the boundary and the absence of soft-bodied animals in upper Precambrian Burgess Shale–type biotas (Xiao et al., 2002) suggest that the general absence of bilaterian animal fossils from upper Precambrian rocks is not a preservational artifact.  Rather, it appears that animals originated and began to diversify relatively close to the base of the Cambrian.”

What is omitted in this paper? Charles Marshall also had problems with it too in his explanation. It’s intermediate forms, the transitional forms that must have existed between all the phyla. The Precambrian fossils consists mostly of bacteria and microbial eukaryotes! Then all of a sudden it jumps to higher levels of life for example, Trilobites, show up at about 525 million years in the evolutionary time frame but no pre-trilobites have ever been found. Scientists are not observing microbes becoming cnidarians, or Ediacarans becoming worms in the fossil record!

It is assumed that since bacteria and eukaryotes are found in Precambrian fossils, that Trilobites and other animals had evolved. Does this solve the Cambrian Explosion and proves a slow and gradual process? Is this really their best evidence so far? The fact of the matter is, if evolution were true there would be intermediate forms in the fossil record. Also, there would be more intermediate forms than the species themselves. These geologists didn’t explain the Cambrian explosion away, all they did was tinker with the data which deals only with fully complex structured species, revise the time line which is a common practice in evolution because it’s based on assumptions and then made a fraudulent claim (because it has to do with creationism and intelligent design proponents) that wasn’t based on an observation in the fossil record.


11 thoughts on “Geologists Tinker With The Cambrian Explosion Data

  1. “Geologists Tinker With The Cambrian Explosion Data”

    Michael here seems to be accusing scientists of faking data pertaining to Cambrian fossils. Especially when he notes that “What is even more interesting, they resort in making a fraudulent claim which is very misleading to the public.”

    Michael should remember that this is a serious charge. Scientists can lose their entire careers for jiggering data—even a Nobel winner, even when the suspect was only a co-author, and even when the person was only suspected of omitted some data from a result.

    Scientists are not creationists, whom everyone expects to lie about anything. In fact, we call then liars for Jesus, don’t we? As Martin Luther once put it,

    “A small lie in the service of the Lord is no sin.”

  2. In all his pusillanimous cavils about details of the Cambrian fossils, Michael ignores the 849-pound gorilla in the room.


    Even the creationists emphasize the “brief” span of the Cambrian—20 to 50 million years or more, which by itself is 10,000 times as long as they allow for the age iof the entire universe. But then, has anyone ever accused creationists of logic? Not I.

  3. Quoth Michael: “Scientists are not observing microbes becoming cnidarians, or Ediacarans becoming worms in the fossil record!”

    Here it is only the first day of the month, and Michael has already sallied forth with a howler that bids fair for the title of Stupidest Creationist Claim of the Month.

    Michael, please point to a source anywhere in the world where a biologist has claimed that any cnidarian evolved directly from a microbe of any kind (eubacteria, archaea, or eukaryote).

    When you look up Ediacarian, you will find that it is the name of a period, not an animal. Thus, an Ediacarian could not have evolved into anything, much less into a worm.

    In sum: We have here yet more evidence that Michael has not the foggiest notion concerning evolution or any other branch of science. Nevertheless, because he has challenged the qualifications of others, we still yearn to see any that he may display.

  4. .Michael frequently rhapsodizes over a supposed lack of transitional forms in the Cambrian. His mistake is that his thinks of different phyla as having body plans whose differences are obvious to all ans sundry.

    Yet Michael himself provides an example that this is not so.

    Cnsider the cnidarians that Michael employs as an example of a phylum without transitionals. Then—

    Ct to the ctenophores, a different phylum entirely. Yet, until recently, most biologists classified these two together, as the single phylum Coelenterata.


    Then there is the echinoderms, which is a widespread phylum having a radial body plan. But wait! Only the adults have radial symmetry—The juveniles have bilateral body plans, like the chordates An embryonic starfish—an echinoderm—is difficult to tell apart from an embryonic pikaian—a chordate. So how different are the Cambrian species of these two phyla from each other?

    One Cambrian fossil is so ambiguous that half the paleontologists argue that it is of the phylum chordata, while the other half contend that it should be assigned to the annelida–the worms. A species named Nectocaris is a Burgess shale fossil whose body plan has not been assigned to any phylum—because it shows features of chordates, of arthropods, and of crustaceans. In other words, it seems to be either a TRANSITION or an ANCESTOR of multiple phyla.

    Michael seem to have the idea that the early ancestors of different phyla—different body plans—are obvious. After all, even he can tell the difference between a spider and a duck-billed platypus. However, he has the mistaken idea that the ancestral species of different phyla were just as easy to distinguish from each other.

    Analogize the situation to a great spreading oak tree. The large major branches correspond to the 37 extant phyla. They are each festooned with thousands of smaller branches and twigs—the individual modern species in each phylum. And the phyla are easy to see sprouting from the central trunk.

    But now view at the same tree when it was a young sapling. All of the branches were small and close together. Even the branches that would eventually become the major ones were then tiny, and hard to tell apart. It was difficult to say where each one would end up.

    So with the Cambrian—and Precambrian—fossils. What are now obvious as different phyla were not any more different from each other then than species differ from each other today. Michael, of course, has not the knowledge of paleontology to understand such a concept. This may explain a lot.

  5. It gets tiring explaining the same concept over and over again.

    Michael will probably never catch on. His misbegotten faith seems to blind him.[1]

    We may hope, however, that, if he still has any readers, they may see the light—or, in the foregoing analogy, spot the tree in the forest.


    [1] I have finally begun reading the new edition of Ronald Numbers’ classic, The Creationists. It is indeed humorous to see how early evangelicals actually embraced Darwin. One might follow the tortuous career of G. Frederick Wright as he careened from Darwinist to science denialist over the span of several decades.

  6. We castigate Michael for missing his promise of a substantive review of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell by, well, 15 months now.

    But Michael is not even in the same slacker league as Meyer himself. In March of 2004, he put forth the concept of “ontogenic depth” as a measure of design, and promised to explain it. Last April, he announced version 2.0, without even having defined the first version. And the new & unproved version remains undefined 7 months later. But then his monograph On Common Descent was promised more than a decade ago, and seems to have sunk quietly beneath the waves.

    Creationists. 100% down-filled bluff, no substance.

  7. Soc Puppette reminds me that ID also excels in failed predictions. In 1998, William Dembski proclaimed that—

    “Intelligent design is a fledgling science. Even so, intelligent design is a fledgling of enormous promise. Many books and articles are in the pipeline. I predict that in the next five years [i.e., by 2003] intelligent design will be sufficiently developed to deserve funding from the National Science Foundation.” (Mere Creation, p29)

    Someone should inform the NSF that they are way behind schedule.

    Quoth Meyer more recently—

    “In the next five years, molecular Darwinism–the idea that Darwinian processes can produce complex molecular structures at the subcellular level–will be dead…. I therefore foresee a Taliban-style collapse of Darwinism in the next ten years.” (“The measure of Design,” Touchstone, July/August 2004)

    He seems to have been wrong about the Taliban, too. Well, what can you expect from a creationist?

  8. Not the Cambrian “explosion” again …

    couldn’t you express your ignorance on a more original subject, perhaps ?

  9. That’s the problem, Eelco. How can creationists think up new subjects, given their ignorance? In order to broach new subjects, one must have some kind of knowledge of the field.

    The last new subject was probably George McCready Price’s Grand Canyon gambit in the 1920s. Ninety years later, the argument has not changed.

    Some may claim that the argument from information is newer. However, this is nothing more than a rehash of the hoary second law of thermodynamics ploy, substituting complexity for entropy.

  10. Speaking of early life, Michael may be interested in a 3-day on-line symposium next week.

    The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is hosting a Workshop without Walls on Molecular Paleontology and Resurrection: Rewinding the Tape of Life”.

    From the brochure: “Participants will discuss ‘top down’ origin of life research, which will ultimately allow us to rewind the evolutionary record of biochemical processes and assemblies.” Topics for presentation and discussion include evolutionary history of protein synthesis, extinct biochemistry, and early-earth environmental conditions as reconstructed from biological energy transformation systems.

    Registration is free, at the web site. See you there!

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