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Deepening Darwin's Dilemma - Jonathan Wells - Sept. 2009
Excerpt: "The truth is that (finding) “exceptionally preserved microbes” from the late Precambrian actually deepen Darwin’s dilemma, because they suggest that if there had been ancestors to the Cambrian phyla they would have been preserved."
Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories By: Stephen C. Meyer; Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington
"To say that the fauna of the Cambrian period appeared in a geologically sudden manner also implies the absence of clear transitional intermediate forms connecting Cambrian animals with simpler pre-Cambrian forms. And, indeed, in almost all cases, the Cambrian animals have no clear morphological antecedents in earlier Vendian or Precambrian fauna (Miklos 1993, Erwin et al. 1997:132, Steiner & Reitner 2001, Conway Morris 2003b:510, Valentine et al. 2003:519-520). Further, several recent discoveries and analyses suggest that these morphological gaps may not be merely an artifact of incomplete sampling of the fossil record (Foote 1997, Foote et al. 1999, Benton & Ayala 2003, Meyer et al. 2003), suggesting that the fossil record is at least approximately reliable (Conway Morris 2003b:505)."
Interestingly, "simple" Jellyfish and Sponges appeared suddenly in the fossil record a few ten million years before the Cambrian Explosion, and have remained virtually unchanged since they first appeared in the fossil record. Moreover, contrary to evolutionary thinking, Jellyfish and Sponges appear to have essential purpose in preparing the ecosystem for the Cambrian Explosion that was to follow.
Marine animals cause a stir - July 2009
Excerpt: Kakani Katija and John Dabiri used field measurements of jellyfish swimming in a remote island lake, combined with a new theoretical model, to demonstrate that the contribution of living organisms to ocean mixing via this mechanism is substantial — of the same order of magnitude as winds and tides. (Winds and tides, due to their prevention of stagnation, are known to be essential for life on earth.)
Sponges Determine Coral Reef's Nutrient Cycle
Excerpt: Sponges, which have worldwide distribution in the oceans, filter water. They take up planktonic particles such as bacteria and excrete inorganic nutrients. In turn, these nutrients can facilitate the growth of marine plants and other organisms. Sponges filter water at a phenomenal rate: if the seawater were to remain stationary, the sponges would have completely pumped it away within five minutes,,,, these organisms play a key role in the marine nutrient cycle due to their incredible capacity to convert enormous quantities of organic plankton into inorganic material (nutrients). http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050917085649.htm
Fossils of all types of sponges alive today have been found virtually unchanged in rocks dated from 580 to 523 million years ago. Sponges with photosynthesizing endosymbionts produce up to three times more oxygen than they consume, as well as more organic matter than they consume. (Wikipedia)
Barrel and Chimney Sponges Filtering Water - video
The mysterious Ediacara biota, which appeared abruptly, alongside the Sponges and Jellyfish, in the pre-Cambrian fossil record, and which defy classification as either plant or animal, much less classification of essential symbiotic purpose, largely disappeared from the fossil record a few million years before the Cambrian Explosion and thus are not seen to be viable as precursors to the Cambrian Explosion.
The Avalon Explosion:
Excerpt: Ediacara fossils [575 to 542 million years ago (Ma)] represent Earth's oldest known complex macroscopic life forms,,, A comprehensive quantitative analysis of these fossils indicates that the oldest Ediacara assemblage—the Avalon assemblage (575 to 565 Ma)—already encompassed the full range of Ediacara morphospace. (i.e. they appeared abruptly in the fossil record and retained their same basic shape and form throughout their tenure in the fossil record before they went extinct prior to the Cambrian explosion.)
My guess is that, as with photosynthetic bacteria, sulfate reducing bacteria, sponges, and jellyfish, Ediacara biota will ultimately be found to have a essential biogeochemical role in preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear in the Cambrian explosion. This following paper, although evolutionary in its basis, offers a few tantalizing clues as to what that essential purpose for Ediacara biota might have been.
The mysterious Ediacara biota:
Excerpt: "many questions remain. In particular, we might consider why the earliest known Ediacarans thrived in a deep ocean setting, when the oxygen apparently so vital for their evolution had already been abundant in shallow marine environments for millions of years."
The scant "track" evidence for worms in the pre-Cambrian has now been brought into question:
Discovery Of Giant Roaming Deep Sea Protist Provides New Perspective On Animal Evolution:
Excerpt: This is the first time a single-celled organism has been shown to make such animal-like traces. The finding is significant, because similar fossil grooves and furrows found from the Precambrian era, as early as 1.8 billion years ago, have always been attributed to early evolving multicellular animals. "If our giant protists were alive 600 million years ago and the track was fossilized, a paleontologist unearthing it today would without a shade of doubt attribute it to a kind of large, multicellular, bilaterally symmetrical animal," says Matz, an assistant professor of integrative biology. "We now have to rethink the fossil record."
The “real work” of the beginning of the Cambrian Explosion may in actuality be as short as a two to three million year time frame (Ross: Creation as Science 2006) which is well within what is termed the "geologic resolution time" i.e. The time frame for the main part of the Cambrian Explosion apparently can't be shortened any further due to limitations of our accurately dating this ancient time period more precisely.
"The Cambrian Explosion was so short that it is below the resolution of the fossil record. It could have happened overnight. So we don't know the duration of the Cambrian Explosion. We just know that it was very, very, fast." Jonathan Wells - Darwin's Dilemma Quote
Interestingly, while the photo-synthetic bacteria were reducing greenhouse gases and producing oxygen, and metal, and minerals, which would all be of benefit to modern man, "sulfate-reducing" bacteria were also producing their own natural resources which would be very useful to modern man. Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by detoxifying the primeval earth and oceans of poisonous levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ores. Metal ores which are very useful for modern man, as well as fairly easy for man to extract today (mercury, cadmium, zinc, cobalt, arsenic, chromate, tellurium and copper to name a few). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these heavy metals in the ecosystem which are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms.
Bacterial Heavy Metal Detoxification and Resistance Systems:
Excerpt: Bacterial plasmids contain genetic determinants for resistance systems for Hg2+ (and organomercurials), Cd2+, AsO2, AsO43-, CrO4 2-, TeO3 2-, Cu2+, Ag+, Co2+, Pb2+, and other metals of environmental concern.
The role of bacteria in hydrogeochemistry, metal cycling and ore deposit formation:
Textures of sulfide minerals formed by SRB (sulfate-reducing bacteria) during bioremediation (most notably pyrite and sphalerite) have textures reminiscent of those in certain sediment-hosted ores, supporting the concept that SRB may have been directly involved in forming ore minerals. http://www.goldschmidt2009.org/abstracts/finalPDFs/A1161.pdf
Materialism simply has no credible answers for why these different bacterial types, colonies, geochemical processes, jellyfish and sponges would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear from the very start of their appearance on earth.
Intelligent Design - The Anthropic Hypothesis