The Story Of “Vernanimalcula”

Back in 2005,  paleontologist David Bottjer from the University of Southern California proclaim a discovery known as…“Vernanimalcula” as an animal which has a bilateral body plan. “Vernanimalcula” was dated within the evolutionary framework of tens of millions of years prior to the Cambrian explosion.  He then used this discovery to claim there was no Cambrian explosion after all.

David Bottjer is a miltant evolutionary biologist who gained additional notoriety by pressuring the museum in California to cancel a contract from a small non-profit group that had tried to rent part of the museum for a private screening of the pro-ID film. He called it a “creationist” film because it was questioning the power of natural causes concerning fossils in the Cambrian. The modern ID movement is more like theistic evolution than creationism but it does have legit criticisms of Darwinism.

In Bottjer’s 2005 paper in Scientific American, he writes…

“We had come to Guizhou [China] in 2002 to hunt for microscopic fossils of some of the earliest animals on earth. Specifically, we were hoping to find a bilaterian.

He already had a preconception of what he wanted to discover, and being a militant evolutionist, it just wasn’t a typical discovery rather it was something to be used against creationism and the pro-ID movement. We will discuss more about Bottjer’s method of scientific discovery in a moment, but now let’s turn to some other research that tears Bottjer’s claims to pieces!

The summary goes like this…

“Fossils described as Vernanimalcula guizhouena, from the nearly 600 million-year-old Doushantuo Formation in South China, have been interpreted as the remains of bilaterian animals. As such they would represent the oldest putative record of bilaterian animals in Earth history, and they have been invoked in debate over this formative episode of early animal evolution. However, this interpretation is fallacious.”

“We review the evidential basis of the biological interpretation of Vernanimalcula, concluding that the structures key to animal identity are effects of mineralization that do not represent biological tissues, and, furthermore, that it is not possible to derive its anatomical reconstruction on the basis of the available evidence.”

“There is no evidential basis for interpreting Vernanimalcula as an animal, let alone a bilaterian. The conclusions of evolutionary studies that have relied upon the bilaterian interpretation of Vernanimalcula must be called into question.”

Wow, not only did the co-authors of the paper…Stefan Bengtson, John A. Cunningham2, Chongyu Yin, and Philip C.J. Donoghue say it wasn’t bilerian body plans but it wasn’t even an animal at all! That is just the tip of the ice-berg, the authors also suggested that Bottjer has major bias which clouds his judgement while resorting to what this blog always refers to as drawing a conclusion using evolution for the purpose of shaping and molding a story a certain way rather than allowing the evidence to lead to the conclusions.

“It is likely that the fossils referred to as Vernanimalcula were interpreted as bilaterians because this was, as our epigram betrays, the explicit quarry of its authors. If you know from the beginning not only what you are looking for, but what you are going to find, you will find it, whether or not it exists. As Richard Feynman (1974) famously remarked: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. . . . After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.”

“Conversely, once you have fooled yourself you will fool other scientists. And soVernanimalcula has been marshaled in evidential support for the timing of bilaterian evolution and of multifarious bilaterian innovations. The “little spring animal” has taken on a life of its own, a life it never had in the Neoproterozoic. It is our hope that Vernanimalcula will now be laid to a merciful rest, freed from the heavy burden of undue evolutionary significance that has hitherto been heaped upon it.”

Evolution is nowhere near the level as the law of gravity is, and even that is questioned because of the “big bang” where “dark matter” is invoked to explain what gravity does not in order to keep the theory alive. The law of gravity requires no such rescue mechanisms.   Paleontologist David Bottjer reduces the scientific method to a mere story, because of his hatred towards creationism and the modern intelligent design movement. The critical paper of Bottjer’s work should be applauded for their honesty and they are right, the story of “Vernanimalcula” (which is not a vampire) should be put to rest!