Pre-Cambrian Animal Footprints Discovered

A TYPICAL creationist argument against evolution can be found at websites like Answers in Genesis, which publishes articles such as Exploding into life! That creationist article, written for “educating” children, declares:

When we look at fossils in Cambrian rocks, we find that not only did these animals have no ancestors, but all the main kinds of living creatures were already there. There were animals with backbones (fish), as well as those without backbones, like shellfish, crinoids (sea lilies), and starfish. Some of these Cambrian creatures have died out, but many types are still alive, and have changed little if at all. The ‘Cambrian explosion‘ destroys the idea that all living things evolved from simple ancestors. This evidence makes it much easier to believe in creation than in evolution.

Creationists will therefore be furious at the news from Ohio State University: EARLIEST ANIMAL FOOTPRINTS EVER FOUND — DISCOVERED IN NEVADA. It’s a press release, so we can excerpt freely, adding bold for emphasis:

The fossilized trail of an aquatic creature suggests that animals walked using legs at least 30 million years earlier than had been thought.

The tracks — two parallel rows of small dots, each about 2 millimeters in diameter — date back some 570 million years, to the Ediacaran period.

That precedes the Cambrian Period, so it should be troublesome for creationists. Continuing with the news release:

Scientists once thought that it was primarily microbes and simple multicellular animals that existed prior to the Cambrian, but that notion is changing, explained Loren Babcock, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University.

“We keep talking about the possibility of more complex animals in the Ediacaran — soft corals, some arthropods, and flatworms — but the evidence has not been totally convincing,” he said. “But if you find evidence, like we did, of an animal with legs — an animal walking around — then that makes the possibility much more likely.”

How was this discovery made? In a manner totally alien to the creationist mind — scientists were doing science! The press release informs us:

Babcock was surveying rocks in the mountains near Goldfield, Nevada, with Hollingsworth in 2000 when he found the tracks.

“This was truly an accidental discovery. We came on an outcrop that looked like it crossed the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary, so we stopped to take a look at it. We just sat down and started flipping rocks over. We were there less than an hour when I saw it.”

From the creationist point of view, this is an outrage! How dare those scientists go out into the world and look for evidence? And it’s even more outrageous that the evidence was found by looking in the right place. How long has this been allowed?

Here’s a bit more:

At approximately 570 million years old, this new fossil not only provides the earliest suggestion of animals walking on legs, but it also shows that complex animals were alive on earth before the Cambrian.

Not many macroscopic fossils exist from that time because soft-bodied creatures are not normally preserved.

But don’t worry about the creationists. They have considerable experience with this kind of thing. Their very predictable responses will be on this list:

1. So they found fossil tracks 30 million years earlier than any others like them? That means that those idiot scientists were lying to us all along. They made a 30 million-year error, and now they’re exposed as fools.

2. The fossil-tracks are a fraud, fabricated by the Darwinists in a desperate attempt to keep their failing theory alive.

3. The rocks containing those tracks are young, the result of the Flood. Any techniques proving otherwise are fraudulent.

4. The scientists don’t know what they’re doing, and their own words prove this. Just look at all he weasel-words they use!

They can find plenty of those “weasel words” in the press release, because that’s the way scientists talk. For example:

Babcock says that he is “reasonably certain — not 100 percent” that the fossil was made by a centipede-like arthropod or a leg-bearing worm. A fossil of the animal itself would be more definitive.

Be patient. In due course we’ll be seeing the usual creationist reactions to this discovery. They’ve been denying reality for 150 years.

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16 responses to “Pre-Cambrian Animal Footprints Discovered

  1. Since the beginning of the Cambrian is the beginning of life by definition then the current start date is not accurate so clearly we have to move the beginning of the Cambrian backward in time some 30,000,000 years. Once that has been done, the argument stays the same, all phyla began with no precursors.

    T

  2. Stubby fingers, sensitive keyboard.

    The ‘T’ in the previous post continues:

    [T]he goalposts no longer just have wheels, they have become self propelled.

  3. bsharp55 says:

    [T]he goalposts no longer just have wheels, they have become self propelled.

    Blessed be the designer.

  4. retiredsciguy

    I’ll bet the creationists wish that Babcock and Hollingsworth had discovered human tracks in those Precambrian rocks. Hmm. That makes me think — how do the creationists explain the absence of human remains in the Cambrian — for that matter, in the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and on through the Tertiary as well? Do the creationists claim that the “godless scientists” have indeed found fossilized remains of humans going back through all geologic eras, but are suppressing the evidence?

    Perhaps the creationists should seek answers in other books of the Bible besides Genesis:

    “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” — Proverbs 4:7

    That’s the King James version. The New English Bible states it more clearly for our modern ears:

    “The first thing is to acquire wisdom; gain understanding though it cost you all you have.”

    Too bad the creationists are so selective about which parts of the Bible they choose to adhere to.

  5. retiredsciguy says:

    … how do the creationists explain the absence of human remains in the Cambrian — for that matter, in the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian …

    That’s all one big period — the present. Those layers are caused by the Flood.

  6. retiredsciguy

    “That’s all one big period — the present. Those layers are caused by the Flood.”

    Ah. That explains everything.
    Still, I wonder why we don’t find human bones around where we find dinosaur bones. And gee, don’t you think there should be SOME reference to dinosaurs in the Bible? I mean, they would be pretty hard to ignore as they tromped around through the Garden of Eden.

  7. retiredsciguy says:

    And gee, don’t you think there should be SOME reference to dinosaurs in the Bible?

    Why? Does the Bible mention squirrels? You must learn to stifle your doubts. I’m getting worried about you.

  8. retiredsciguy

    “Why? Does the Bible mention squirrels? You must learn to stifle your doubts. I’m getting worried about you.”

    Maybe it does, I dunno. At any rate, that would be a bad argument for the creationists to use. Squirrels are pretty easy to ignore. Not so a T. Rex.
    Well, you get the idea of where I’m going with this. If the Discoveroids wish to interpret the Bible literally, there are some logical questions that they should be asked. I’m sure they would have an answer for any question asked, and I bet the answers would make for interesting reading.

  9. retiredsciguy says:

    If the Discoveroids wish to interpret the Bible literally, there are some logical questions that they should be asked.

    Everyone has his own style. I never argue about the bible, or about religion. Lots of other people do that, but I think it’s unproductive.

    I have no problem arguing that ID is creationism, not science. And of course creationism is religion and has nothing in common with science. But having made those points, I can drop it. The Constitution — so far — keeps that stuff out of science classes in public schools, and that’s sufficient.

  10. retiredsciguy

    The Curmudgeon says:
    “I have no problem arguing that ID is creationism, not science.”

    And you’re doing a fine job at it, too. Please keep up the good work.

  11. In Darwin’s time, it was the Devonian “explosion”. Later, it was the earlier Cambrian “explosion”. This will just mean, to them, that the “explosion” happened earlier than before. Possibly as early as 4004BC. True story.

    On a related note, I stumbled across this on Conservapedia. Scroll down to the last comment. That is why, to them, ToE can’t be true and Genesis must be True (with a capital T). I would think, then, that ToE would be a good thing, but what do I know?

  12. Wups. It’s not the last comment any more. The one I was talking about was from 11:34, 1 September 2008 (EDT) .

  13. I never try to keep up with the foolishness on Conservapedia. One must have some standards.

  14. Really? I’ve done some amusing writing based on their “worldview”. I won’t whore here. That’s my sig’s job.

  15. I’m glad someone is taking them on.

  16. My bravery is only matched by my anonymity. Some of those guys are crazy!