A Cambrian Entoproct

Barentsa discretaThe Cambrian fossil Cotyledion has long been an enigma to classify, having been moved from phylum to phylum. The discovery of around 400 fossils has provided enough information for a new study to move it, with confidence, to the Entoprocta phylum. This is a group of small aquatic animals most notable for the position of their anus – a picture of another entoproct, Barentsa discreta, is to the right. Because they are small and entirely soft-bodied there is only one other confirmed fossil entoproct, from the Jurassic, and so Cotyledion tylodes significantly extends the period the group has existed for.

Jeffrey Tomkins has graced us with an article on this species, called Another Cambrian Discovery Discredits Evolution. His entire argument rests upon the premise that evolution must inexorably increase the complexity of all creatures over time. Continue reading

Arthropod Brains

Fuxianhuia protensa from the Lower Cambrian Chengjiang FaunaThe latest article from Brian Thomas is Cambrian Creature Had Complicated Brain. It relates to a study that found that a Cambrian arthropod, Fuxianhuia protensa, had a “modern” brain (at least for an arthropod). But first, here’s Brian’s conception of the Cambrian explosion:

In the evolutionary scheme, Cambrian fossils represent creatures from an ancient time when they had only recently emerged from unidentified sub-animal life forms. As such, evolutionists expect Cambrian creatures to be more complicated in structure than their supposed precursors, but simpler than their more “highly evolved” descendants.

“Unidentified sub-animal life forms”? Continue reading

Ediacaran Diversification

Many articles from the Institute for Creation Research demonstrate an apparent ignorance on the subject of how Evolution in general and Natural Selection specifically operate. No prizes, then, for guessing that Thomas’ latest – Do Habitats Create Creatures? – is an example of this.

The interpretation that they seem to point forward is that the actions of the environment, or other natural forces, “mindlessly” shape the creature that is being evolved. It’s an odd and indeed absurd caricature, and it’s difficult to determine whether it is a result of wilful ignorance about the topic or whether the writer is being intentionally deceptive. On the other hand it’s pretty clear that it’s one or the other – but make up your own mind which. Continue reading

Cambrian Compund Eyes – The Creationist POV

shrimp faceSomebody has found some very nice early Cambrian compound eyes. “Very nice” in that the eyes seem to be quite good – “[t]hey have over 3000 lenses, making them more powerful than anything from that era, and probably belonged to an active predator that was capable of seeing in dim light,” the article says. The eyes were apparently similar to that of a shrimp, although the fossils are not attached to any creature that would tell us what it was. Continue reading

Limits to Evolution and an Out of Place Fossil – Quick DpSU 14 June

Our first DpSU is entitled “The Cost of Adaptations Limits Evolution“. This seems to be a classic Micro/Macro Evolution story, and by my reckoning a Type AE DpSU (Misrepresented Study).

Or in this case, studies. Mr Thomas is talking about two studies from a recent issue of the journal Science in which bacteria (Methylobacterium and E. coli) were experimented upon, with the researches investigating the effects of multiple mutations on Epistasis. Epistasis, btw, is (to quote WP) “the phenomenon where the effects of one gene are modified by one or several other genes, which are sometimes called modifier genes.” Interestingly, the ICR article does not mention the word Epistasis anywhere outside of it’s references.

The problem I have with this article is that I don’t have access to any part of the studies beyond the abstract, so I’m a bit limited about what I can say.

To distil the ICR article down somewhat, what the studies seem to show is that, as beneficial mutations accumulate, their benefits decrease, causing a diminishing returns situation. And this disproves evolution how? Mr Thomas extrapolates this to say that animals only have a limited ability to evolve. So Baraminology is out the door then? Definiately an AE, though I don’t have the time to deconstruct the article.

As for the second, “Out of Place Marine Fossil Disrupts Evolutionary Index“.

The science behind this is that a group of animals from the Cambrian period, the Anomalocaridids, have been shown to have survived significantly longer. It might be added that we already knew that to a certain degree, but that wont stop Mr Thomas.

No, a new discovery shows (according to him) that the whole ‘Evolutionary Index’ is unreliable, as Anomalocaridids are a defining feature of Cambrian rocks, indeed make Cambrian rocks Cambrian. There is, however, no reference to that claim, which would help. He also claims that Noah’s flood predicts that fossils should be disorganised, and that this is a prime example of that. I’ll cover this kind of thing in my Noah’s Ark series shortly, but I’ll add here that the Flood would disorganise fossils a whole lot more than is observed.

Thomas also throws in a declaration that the fossils found are already perfect, and therefore could not evolve further and could not have been evolved either — therefore God (spot the logical fallacy anyone?). Also, he says that “no anomalocaridid looks like an evolutionary transition”. *sigh*. What is an evolutionary transition by Mr Thomas’ unknown definition anyway. A ‘transition’ looks no different from any other fossil, and is defined only by the prior discovery of fossils that have the potential to be ancestors/aunts and descendants/nieces of the new discovery. If you find fossils in a different order, different fossils are classified as ‘transitional’.

And that’s all I have time for tonight…