The Discoveroids’ Cambrian Explosion Is Fizzling

As we said in Discoveroids Defend the Cambrian Explosion:

Despite all their books, podcasts, and blog articles, the only “scientific” argument the Discovery Institute has — which they claim Darwinism can’t dispute — is the so-called Cambrian explosion. It was that magic moment (lasting around 25 million years) when their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — came to this privileged planet to tinker with the primitive biosphere to create the basic forms of life we now see.

It’s the cornerstone of Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer, Vice President and Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute (and a central figure in the infamous Sternberg peer review controversy).

Unfortunately for the Discoveroids, their argument is falling apart. We just found this at PhysOrg: Fossils’ soft tissues helping to solve puzzle that vexed Darwin, and it’s going to be fun watching the Discoveroids’ reaction. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Remarkably well-preserved fossils are helping scientists unravel a mystery about the origins of early animals that puzzled Charles Darwin. Analysis of the 547 million-year-old remains has enabled researchers to trace the ancestry of some of the world’s earliest animals further back than ever before. Their study has uncovered the first known link between animals that evolved during the so-called Cambrian Explosion some 540 million-years-ago and one of their early ancestors.

The Discoveroids are in full panic mode. What can they do to preserve their big argument? PhysOrg says:

Until recently, little was known about the origins of animals that evolved during the Cambrian event because of a lack of well-preserved fossil evidence. The mysterious origins of animals that evolved at this time — when the diversity of life on Earth increased rapidly, giving rise to almost all modern-day animal groups — baffled 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin. It is often referred to as Darwin’s dilemma.

And the Discoveroids have built their “science” on that dilemma. PhysOrg tells us:

Prior to the new study, it had proven difficult to trace links with earlier animals because their soft tissues — which provide vital clues about the animals’ ancestry — almost always break down over time. During fieldwork in Namibia, scientists from the University of Edinburgh unearthed the fossil remains of tiny animals — known as Namacalathus — that resemble a pin cushion attached to a short stalk.

We can hear the droolers now: “I ain’t no kin to no pin cushion on a stalk!” Ah well, PhysOrg continues:

Using an X-ray imaging technique, the team found some of the animals’ soft tissues immaculately preserved inside the fossils by a metallic mineral called pyrite. Until now, scientists had only ever identified skeletal remains of Namacalathus. Studying the soft tissues — and comparing them with those in animals that evolved later — revealed that Namacalathus was an early ancestor of species that appeared during the Cambrian Explosion. Among them are types of prehistoric worms and molluscs.

That may be a good method of preserving soft tissue, but all the creationists we’ve been following claim that the existence of soft tissue always proves the fossil is young — like the Earth. They’ll stick to that argument, but it doesn’t matter. Here comes the end of the PhysOrg article:

Professor Rachel Wood, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “These are exceptional fossils, which give us a glimpse into the biological affinity of some of the oldest animals. They help us trace the roots of the Cambrian Explosion and the origin of modern animal groups. Such preservation opens up many new avenues of research into the history of life which was previously not possible.”

Here’s a link to the paper, published in Science Advances: Ediacaran metazoan reveals lophotrochozoan affinity and deepens root of Cambrian Explosion. You can read it on-line without a subscription.

And now we wait for the Discoveroids’ reaction. It’s going to be fun!

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7 responses to “The Discoveroids’ Cambrian Explosion Is Fizzling

  1. This is interesting, but i can’t get too excited. It has been well established that there is relationships among classes of vertebrates, mammals and birds from “reptiles”, etc. What is the point of creating phyla in the Cambrian? “Macroevolution” gone wild.

  2. Dave Luckett

    Paleontologists who actually care about establishing cladistic trees from evidence care about this – because that’s what this research is doing. But of course they’re working in an extremely specialised field, and the details are perhaps not particularly interesting to those outside it.

    But, although I know practically nothing about early animal basal forms and their divergence, I can see the importance of this research in refuting the creationist blather retailed by the DI. Their “designer” (ie, God) works only in the gaps. This closes another gap.

    Now, there will always be gaps. But they get smaller and smaller. What was an impenetrable mystery to Darwin has been steadly getting less and less of one over the last century. Now another piece is being placed in the puzzle.

    The DI will probably not react at all. They don’t know from research, nor care. But whether they react or not, they now have less room to park their designer in. If this goes on – and it will – there will come a point where the designer becomes picayune to the point of being ridiculous. That is, “to be laughed at”.

    Once the general reaction to creationism, DI style, is laughter, it’s all over.

  3. “It’s going to be fun!”
    Initially the IDiots from Seattle will try to neglect this indeed, but at some point they’re going to have to – and they’ll try to pooh pooh it away. That will be the fun part. In the meantime, as DaveL already pointed out, we are witnessing another retreat of the god of the gaps (Bonhöffer – a famous christian hero).

  4. Eddie Janssen

    Just the single mentioning of the small shelly fossils in an unconspicuous endnote in Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt shows you how important it is for the ID crowd to keep that connection between the Chengjiang and Burgess Shale faunas (520 and 508 mya respectively) to the Ediacaran animals unknown or better still, non-existing.

  5. The DI have a way with such things; see https://www.discovery.org/a/right-of-reply-our-response-to-jerry-coyne/

    “The mollusks to which Coyne confidently appeals as friends of the family? They belong to the Ediacaran fossil genus Kimberella. First described as a jellyfish, Kimberella was later indeed sometimes associated with early mollusks. This attribution remained controversial: several characteristics contradicted it. A comprehensive paper recently reviewed the “problem of Kimberella” and concluded that “the possibility that Kimberella is coelenterate grade should therefore not be excluded.” Although likely a metazoan, they went on to write, “its placement remains problematic; it may be on the bilaterian stem group rather than within the stem group of any particular phylum.” ”

    In plain English, the ediacaran fauna can’t be precursors of the Cambrian diversification because they can’t be assigned to specific Cambrian phyla. Go reckon

    I’m sure the DI will know better than to make an issue of the “soft tissue”; no more a problem than the preservation of petrified wood, though they may get around to making some joke about pyrite being “Fool’s gold”. AiG, I’m not so sure

  6. Ol’Hambo won’t have any problem with this. He doesn’t have any use for Cambrian explosions anyway. ‘Cuz 6000 years.

  7. Just read the book Evolution Myths a Critical View of neo-Darwinism (2018) by Dr. Jeffery K. Lyons. In his book he details some of the problems with evolutionary theory. The book is an interesting read for those who are looking for a condensed version of some of the arguments against Darwinism regardless of people’s opinions on this issue. It occurred to me while reading this book what seems to be an underlying theme is the notion of the existence of supernaturalism. Did the beginning of life have a “helping hand” that assisted the formation of DNA and the “software programming” contained within it?

    Understandings of many problems sometimes are aided by finding “related examples” to see if there is any analogous physical realities that might have relevant mechanics. What does supernaturalism mean? One definition might be examples of phenomenon that defy the known natural laws of physics.
    So an interesting journey would be to see if there are any examples of supernaturalism that might aid in the logical inferences of how origins of how life formed from the very beginning. The argument for “irreducible complexity” hints at some sort of a designer was necessary in the beginning.

    One of the easiest examples to find would be crop circles. This is easy because everyone can agree that crop circles do exist. I think most people also agree many of them were created by humans, or referred to as “pranks with planks” (lumber used in knocking down the crops create the formations). What cannot be agreed upon is to whether all of them were man made. I became convinced studying this phenomenon in more depth that there are indeed many of these crop circles that came into existence in an anomalistic way. If this is the case then an analogy of how these circles originate might help clarify micro-evolutionary discussions. This would be similar to the arguments for directed panspermia where some believe that asteroids helped to seed earth in the beginning. This idea appeals to many who don’t want supernaturalism or theistic interpretations, but also don’t believe in undirected naturalism explains life’s origins.

    So for those who have looked into the study of crop circles. If you believe all of them are man made after taking an unbiased examination of the evidence, then the analogy stops at this point. For those who cannot accept that man is responsible for all these formations, perhaps there is a good physical reason for their existence. Crystalline structures are similar to the patterns of crop circles, and they don’t rely on supernatural explanations. The difficulty is we understand crystalline structures, we don’t with crop circles that don’t have a man made explanation. Those who have claimed to have observed how these anomalistic crop circles formations form have seen what they refer to as “orbs” circling the fields, then the formations appear. This is similar to what Christians believe that complex life appeared by God. In this case the “god” is the orb. As far as that goes, we have no understanding of the capabilities of these orbs if they do exist. Perhaps they have the ability to also create much more complex structures other than patterns in wheat fields. Perhaps the orbs have also the beginnings of life creating capabilities. The point is perhaps we should be looking more scientifically into related examples to see if there is any other examples of similar controversy that might help clarify neo-Darwinism discussions. An auto mechanic might be able to repair a washing machine using the things he understands about cars without ever prior trying to repair a washing machine.