Gunter Bechly: Darwin's gap problem (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 08, 2020, 22:45 (104 days ago) @ David Turell

New findings enforce the gap further. New Ediacaran fossils don't help Darwin's gap:

"The most popular attempt to resolve this discrepancy is the so-called “artifact hypothesis,” which proposes that the Cambrian animal phyla had ancestors, but that those ancestors either left no fossil record or have not yet been found, because of the incompleteness of the fossil record. This ad hoc hypothesis was originally proposed by Charles Walcott, the discoverer of the famous Burges Shale fossils. More recently it was for example championed by paleontologist Donald Prothero in his critical review of Stephen C. Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt.


"As a paleontologist, I can hardly agree more with this conclusion. My only point of difference would be that I would no longer consider the phosphatized “embryo-like” fossils of the Wen’an Biota from the Doushantuo Formation in China as best argument, because of their highly controversial and very dubious attribution. Nevertheless, the fact that most specialists reject any affinity of these fossils with crown-group animals strongly suggests that there is no convincing evidence for any animals from this 560-million-year-old locality.

"Of course, the argument from the Doushantou fossils is somewhat weak, because it is a very specific type of fossilization that implies taphonomic filters to what can be preserved and what not. But we meanwhile have much better evidence against the artifact hypothesis. According to Gaines et al., “Burgess Shale−type biotas occur globally in the Cambrian record and offer unparalleled insight into the Cambrian explosion, the initial Phanerozoic radiation of the Metazoa. Deposits bearing exceptionally preserved soft-bodied fossils are unusually common in Cambrian strata; more than 40 are now known.” Thus, we definitely should expect to find the postulated ancestors of the Cambrian animal phyla in Burgess Shale-type localities of the preceding Ediacaran era. The artifact hypothesis suggested that there are no such localities.


"None of these Ediacaran biotas yielded any uncontroversial fossil record of animals! Especially important are the vast deposits of the Miaohe and Lantian biotas in China and the Zuun-arts biota in Mongolia, which both lack any bilaterian animals and only yielded fossil algae and problematic organisms...Daley et al. discussed all the above-mentioned Burgess Shale-type localities from the Ediacaran and concluded that the “modes of fossil preservation are comparable in the Cambrian and Precambrian.” In their abstract they affirmed that: “BSTs [Burgess Shale types] from the latest Ediacaran Period are abundantly fossiliferous with algae but completely lack animals, which are also missing from other Ediacaran windows, such as phosphate deposits.”


"So, demonstrably no animal biota existed 1 billion, 800 million, 560 million, and even 550 million years ago (the only remotely plausible candidates are the late Ediacaran jellyfish Haootia, the mollusk-like Kimberella, the worm-like Yilingia, and the possible lophophorate Namacalathus, which I will discuss in future articles). But in the lowermost Cambrian, 537 million years ago, there were already complex arthropod body plans with exoskeleton, articulated legs, and compound eyes (Daley et al. 2018), as well as many other bilaterian animal phyla. To deny that this is a major problem for Darwinian evolution is absurd.


"The absence of Ediacaran fossils of putative precursors of the Cambrian animal phyla is not an artifact of undersampling or an artifact of taphonomy, but simply reflecting the fact that there were no such organisms living in this period. With increasing paleontological research and better knowledge of the Proterozoic fossil record, the Cambrian explosion has turned out to be even more abrupt than was previously thought."

Comment: Try as hard as Darwinist scientists try the gap is stronger than ever. Many new layers have been explored with no new transitional forms found. I should note Darwin did not try to hide the 'plant bloom', again with no precursors, was just as troubled about it. It occurred a couple of hundred millions years after the Cambrian Explosion. In truth, as Gould and Eldridge noted, evolution is all gaps. Only design can explain the lack of gradual transitional forms.

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