Ediacaran roots extend deeper into geologic time?

| 54 Comments

By Joe Meert, http://scienceantiscience.blogspot.com/

Several years ago while working in south Kazakhstan, my colleagues and I were stuck at a place called Maly Karatau just north of the Kyrgyzstan border. The geology of the region is interesting and was once of economic importance during the days of the Soviet Union. It is rich in early Cambrian age phosphorites which were mined for phosphorus. The geologic section is fairly complete and covers much of the Neoproterozoic (~850–542 million years ago). Our initial target focused on a sequence of volcaniclastic red and green sediments as part of a larger effort to track the initial stages of Central Asian assembly. The younger part of the section was fairly well-constrained in age from Cambrian to Ordovician, but the lower part of the section was not known. Since the section included the Ediacaran Period (635–542 Ma), we also hoped to find some evidence for Ediacaran fossils. We succeeded in a way we hadn’t imagined.

While stuck in the region (our driver had a mild stroke in the field), we discovered two things about the sequence. The first was a glacial tillite in the middle part of the section that had not been adequately described. The second was discoidal impressions in a sedimentary unit along with ‘elephant-wrinkle’ structures on the upper surface of the bedding.

These elephant wrinkle structures are interpreted as microbial mats and are often found in conjunction with Ediacara fauna. There were two distinct discoidal impressions. One was a simple disc with mostly nondescript central depression (one occurrence with a small central nodule) which is similar in appearance to the Ediacara discoidal fossil Nimbia occlusa. The second contained a central invagination typical of the junior morphs of Aspidella terranovica.

Last, we found one fairly complex impression of a discoidal fossil with a ‘stem-like’ protuberance of unknown affinity, but related to a morph of Aspidella. At the time of our discovery, none of this was particularly exciting since it was entirely plausible that the sequence was of Ediacaran age.

Our work in the lab is what provided the first surprise. The general consensus is that the Ediacara fauna reached their zenith around 565 Ma following the last of the severe glacial epochs. In fact, many argue that the so-called Snowball Earth episodes provided the stress necessary for the evolution of complex life during the Ediacaran-Cambrian interval. But the age of the rocks came back as 766 Ma. This is more than 100 million years older than the previously reported occurrences of Nimbia and was a bit of a shock. Furthermore, our study of stable isotopes on the glacial deposits indicated that they are most likely of Marinoan age (~650 Ma). Since the fossils were found stratigraphically well below these glacial rocks, our age estimate made even more sense.

These macroscopic fossils are not without controversy and many attribute them to bacterial colonies, lichens or fungi. But they have also been described as body fossils of frondose-like multicellular organisms. Whatever their exact classification, these fossils are the oldest “Ediacara” discovered to date and precede the previous oldest by about 100 million years.

More interesting is that they appear to have passed through all the myriad climatic and tectonic changes of the Neoproterozoic without much change in bauplan. If they are eventually confirmed to be metazoan remains, then the roots of the so-called Cambrian explosion will continue to be pushed further into deep time and its ‘slow fuse’ will grow longer.

Meert, J.G., Gibsher, A.S., Levashova, N.M., Grice, W.C. and Kamenov, G.D., Glaciation and ~770 Ma Ediacara (?) Fossils from the Lesser Karatau Microcontinent, Kazakhstan, Gondwana Research (large pdf). doi10.1016/j.gr2010.11.008.

University of Florida press release

54 Comments

Joe -

Congratulations and thanks for such a wonderful Christmas present! What has been the response from people like Adolf Seilacher?

Hope yours is a Merry Christmas too!

Appreciatively yours,

John Kwok

What, no rabbits or angiosperms?

Good read. Thanks to Joe, and RBH for the link.

I was taught that the “Cambrian explosion” mostly consisted of long-developing sophisticated and complex organisms “inventing” harder parts that fossilized more easily. So it’s nice to see another 100 million years of development leading up to that invention. Good stuff.

Well it’s just out, but in general the response has been split down the middle (at meetings etc). We have been trying to publish these results for over 2 years and mostly with extremely mixed reviews.

With so many people obsessed with dinosaurs and human ancestors, it’s not surprizing that so little research has been done on pre-Cambrian fossils. But I’m willing to bet that over the next century much research will be done on them, with amazing discoveries that will cause us to revise how we view evolution in those distant time periods.….and maybe even end the notion of a Cambrian “explosion”. After all, we don’t refer to the proliferation of mammals after the dinosaurs died out as an explosion.

My hypothesis is that there could have been some sort of mass extinction about 550 million years ago that prompted various animal groups to expand to fill the gaps left behind.….and the development of hard parts occured coincidentally.

Joe Meert said:

Well it’s just out, but in general the response has been split down the middle (at meetings etc). We have been trying to publish these results for over 2 years and mostly with extremely mixed reviews.

To the extent that you can tell us, what’s the split about? What are the ‘sides’?

In the Numeess tillite of South Africa I found a stromatolite . Did you find any?

The argument is whether or not these are metazoan remains. There are some who think that these simple discs represent bacterial colonies, others think they are lichens or fungi.

Re: stromatolites-yes, they are found in abundance beneath these discoid fossils. The stromatolites in this area include Linella avis. The stromatolites here are about 800-850 million years old.

Have you gotten any favorable feedback from Dolf Seilacher? Am especially curious if you have (and if not, what have been his criticisms):

Joe Meert said:

The argument is whether or not these are metazoan remains. There are some who think that these simple discs represent bacterial colonies, others think they are lichens or fungi.

Re: stromatolites-yes, they are found in abundance beneath these discoid fossils. The stromatolites in this area include Linella avis. The stromatolites here are about 800-850 million years old.

Flint said:

I was taught that the “Cambrian explosion” mostly consisted of long-developing sophisticated and complex organisms “inventing” harder parts that fossilized more easily. So it’s nice to see another 100 million years of development leading up to that invention. Good stuff.

“another 100 million years of development leading up to that invention” is hardly certain and has been met “mostly with extremely mixed reviews”. You make it sound as though it’s a done deal.

The ‘evidence’ may be suggestive, but not necessarily persuasive. Scientists should be skeptical, unless evidence is, perhaps, overwhelming.

You’re in no position to comment, you scientific eejit:

Kris said:

Flint said:

I was taught that the “Cambrian explosion” mostly consisted of long-developing sophisticated and complex organisms “inventing” harder parts that fossilized more easily. So it’s nice to see another 100 million years of development leading up to that invention. Good stuff.

“another 100 million years of development leading up to that invention” is hardly certain and has been met “mostly with extremely mixed reviews”. You make it sound as though it’s a done deal.

The ‘evidence’ may be suggestive, but not necessarily persuasive. Scientists should be skeptical, unless evidence is, perhaps, overwhelming.

I’m going to make a firm request that people restrain themselves from knee-jerk responses to Kris. He made a good point, one that is clear in the post itself and in the paper, that this is by no means smoking gun evidence. The post and the paper itself are hedged about with qualifiers, and the finds are subject to alternative interpretations. That’s part of the process of science: striking new finds are subject to close examination and potential re-interpretation, so this paper is by no means dispositive but rather is suggestive.

Scientists should be skeptical, unless evidence is, perhaps, overwhelming.

Why don’t you try persuasion with, what I presume you have, overwhelming evidence that ID is true, and ToE is false?

RBH, sorry, you beat me by 240 seconds…

RBH said:

I’m going to make a firm request that people restrain themselves from knee-jerk responses to Kris. He made a good point, one that is clear in the post itself and in the paper, that this is by no means smoking gun evidence. The post and the paper itself are hedged about with qualifiers, and the finds are subject to alternative interpretations. That’s part of the process of science: striking new finds are subject to close examination and potential re-interpretation, so this paper is by no means dispositive but rather is suggestive.

You made a good point, but unfortunately, Kris has consistently displayed his ample woeful ignorance of science. Now,as a former paleobiologist, I recognize that some of the criticisms against Joe Meert and his group’s paper may be sound. But I am especially intrigued by the fact that he’s apparently found Ediacaran-like metazoan trace fossils nearly one hundred million years prior to the initial onset of this fauna in the Vendian (latest Precambrian.).

John Kwok said: You made a good point, but unfortunately, Kris has consistently displayed his ample woeful ignorance of science.

But your comment was ostensibly a reply to his in this thread, and his was a perfectly appropriate cautionary remark about drawing firm conclusions based on what is a controversial interpretation of the finds that is clearly indicated in the various hedges in the paper and post.

And I declare this meta-discussion over now. Please let it go. The BW awaits further pursuit of it.

Rolf Aalberg said:

Scientists should be skeptical, unless evidence is, perhaps, overwhelming.

Why don’t you try persuasion with, what I presume you have, overwhelming evidence that ID is true, and ToE is false?

Well, if I had ever said that ID is “true” and/or that the ToE is “false” you might have a point. I’ve never said either.

Rolf Aalberg said:

RBH, sorry, you beat me by 240 seconds…

John Kwok said:

RBH said:

I’m going to make a firm request that people restrain themselves from knee-jerk responses to Kris. He made a good point, one that is clear in the post itself and in the paper, that this is by no means smoking gun evidence. The post and the paper itself are hedged about with qualifiers, and the finds are subject to alternative interpretations. That’s part of the process of science: striking new finds are subject to close examination and potential re-interpretation, so this paper is by no means dispositive but rather is suggestive.

You made a good point, but unfortunately, Kris has consistently displayed his ample woeful ignorance of science. Now,as a former paleobiologist, I recognize that some of the criticisms against Joe Meert and his group’s paper may be sound. But I am especially intrigued by the fact that he’s apparently found Ediacaran-like metazoan trace fossils nearly one hundred million years prior to the initial onset of this fauna in the Vendian (latest Precambrian.).

The stuff Joe put forth is interesting, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a “fact” that he “apparently found” Ediacaran-like metazoan trace fossils nearly one hundred million years prior to the initial onset of this fauna in the Vendian (latest Precambrian).

All things in science are important, but any alleged evidence of Precambrian or Cambrian life should be really strong before making any sort of conclusions.

RBH said: And I declare this meta-discussion over now. Please let it go. The BW awaits further pursuit of it.

BW=Bathroom Wall, I assume. I’m already there.

Kris said:

The stuff Joe put forth is interesting, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a “fact” that he “apparently found” Ediacaran-like metazoan trace fossils nearly one hundred million years prior to the initial onset of this fauna in the Vendian (latest Precambrian).

Then what did he find here in the rocks of Maly Karatau?

All things in science are important, but any alleged evidence of Precambrian or Cambrian life should be really strong before making any sort of conclusions.

How strong evidence do you want or need? What sort of conclusions should we make with the evidence that we’ve found already? Or, are we not allowed to make any conclusions until you say so? Should we go back and revoke all of the studies and research currently being done now about Cambrian and Precambrian life because you feel the evidence is not yet strong enough?

All things in science are important, but any alleged evidence of Precambrian or Cambrian life should be really strong before making any sort of conclusions.

The strength of the conclusion should reflect the strength of the evidence. As Joe says, the evidence is suggestive but no slam dunk. Given that the “Cambrian explosion” is widely agreed to have taken AT LEAST 20-30 million years, extending that time backwards for 100 million years is not (1) proven; (2) necessary, or (3) unreasonable.

Joe Meert said:

Well it’s just out, but in general the response has been split down the middle (at meetings etc). We have been trying to publish these results for over 2 years and mostly with extremely mixed reviews.

Drag. A paper that stirs up that kind of passion should definitly be published.

Good luck Joe

Donald Prothero has correctly observed that the “Cambrian Explosion” is really more a “Cambrian Slow Fuse” since it took up to 60 to 80 million years (approximately the length of the entire Cenozoic Era plus an additional 10 to 15 million years) for the representative metazoans associated with the “Cambrian Explosion” to appear. If Joe Meert is right, then the “fuse” may be even much longer:

Flint said:

All things in science are important, but any alleged evidence of Precambrian or Cambrian life should be really strong before making any sort of conclusions.

The strength of the conclusion should reflect the strength of the evidence. As Joe says, the evidence is suggestive but no slam dunk. Given that the “Cambrian explosion” is widely agreed to have taken AT LEAST 20-30 million years, extending that time backwards for 100 million years is not (1) proven; (2) necessary, or (3) unreasonable.

If you want to boil it down, we found these fossils and we’ve established their age. That much is pretty firm and there isn’t a lot of weasel room about that. Where the weasel room comes in is with regard to what exactly these fossils represent. My colleagues (and myself) have always felt that these findings needed to be documented and we’re quite willing to let others battle the metazoan question. What’s funny is that when I had a poster session at a meeting some would walk up and say “Oh Ediacaran, cool” and then they would look at the age and then back off “Hmm, those are pretty old, have you thought about xxx or yyy origin?”.

Got any feedback from Seilacher, Joe? Good, bad or indifferent:

Joe Meert said:

If you want to boil it down, we found these fossils and we’ve established their age. That much is pretty firm and there isn’t a lot of weasel room about that. Where the weasel room comes in is with regard to what exactly these fossils represent. My colleagues (and myself) have always felt that these findings needed to be documented and we’re quite willing to let others battle the metazoan question. What’s funny is that when I had a poster session at a meeting some would walk up and say “Oh Ediacaran, cool” and then they would look at the age and then back off “Hmm, those are pretty old, have you thought about xxx or yyy origin?”.

Seilacher may have reviewed an earlier version, but did so anonymously. Dolf’s had his own ‘funny finds’ (re Vindhyan traces) so we’d be in good company if we’re wrong. Given that the manuscript is in the corrected proof stage, it might be a month or so before others start finding it in the published literature.

John Kwok said:

Donald Prothero has correctly observed that the “Cambrian Explosion” is really more a “Cambrian Slow Fuse” since it took up to 60 to 80 million years (approximately the length of the entire Cenozoic Era plus an additional 10 to 15 million years) for the representative metazoans associated with the “Cambrian Explosion” to appear. If Joe Meert is right, then the “fuse” may be even much longer:

Yup, that’s what was said in the OP, with a link to the appropriate chapter of Prothero’s book.

Yup, I did see that - thanks for the link RBH - but knowing that there are some people who don’t bother checking such links, I thought I would state it. Even many invertebrate paleontologists realize that the “Cambrian Explosion” is really an artifact from a time when we didn’t have any prior metazoan fossils in the fossl record or knew enough about the emergence of various metazoan clades such as primitive chordates, arthropods, etc. to realize that theirs did not “erupt” suddenly as though these clades suddenly appeared out of thin air:

RBH said:

John Kwok said:

Donald Prothero has correctly observed that the “Cambrian Explosion” is really more a “Cambrian Slow Fuse” since it took up to 60 to 80 million years (approximately the length of the entire Cenozoic Era plus an additional 10 to 15 million years) for the representative metazoans associated with the “Cambrian Explosion” to appear. If Joe Meert is right, then the “fuse” may be even much longer:

Yup, that’s what was said in the OP, with a link to the appropriate chapter of Prothero’s book.

Going by the precedent of the K-T extinction event, where the peripheral mammals proliferated in a now dinosaur/marine reptile free world, and the existence of early Cambrian predation amongst the Tommotian small shelly fauna, it is not unreasonable to expect the ancestors of the Cambrian “big bangers” to have been flitting around the Ediacaran “forest” for some time. Couple that with the increasingly deep rooted nature of the genetic systems undergirding metazoans (re the recent sponge genome analyses) and creationist/ID hopes to keep things walled up in the Cambrian will not be happy with future research. Keep up the exciting work, Mr. Meert.

jMeert: The argument is whether or not these are metazoan remains. There are some who think that these simple discs represent bacterial colonies, others think they are lichens or fungi.

I can’t see why anyone would think these are lichens, or fungi either. What structures does someone think they’re seeing? Just the general form seems wrong to me. Plus, this is a fine-grained aquatic (marine?) deposit, no? Not exactly prime habitat for those groups. If not metazoan, I’d think some alga would be a better guess. I hope you can find some way to get the identity nailed down. Very interesting.

Stanton said:

Kris said:

The stuff Joe put forth is interesting, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a “fact” that he “apparently found” Ediacaran-like metazoan trace fossils nearly one hundred million years prior to the initial onset of this fauna in the Vendian (latest Precambrian).

Then what did he find here in the rocks of Maly Karatau?

All things in science are important, but any alleged evidence of Precambrian or Cambrian life should be really strong before making any sort of conclusions.

How strong evidence do you want or need? What sort of conclusions should we make with the evidence that we’ve found already? Or, are we not allowed to make any conclusions until you say so? Should we go back and revoke all of the studies and research currently being done now about Cambrian and Precambrian life because you feel the evidence is not yet strong enough?

Well, apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that Joe’s evidence is not ‘strong’. I don’t ‘know’ what Joe found and it’s obviously debatable as to ‘what’ exactly he found. Like I said, it’s suggestive and interesting. Future finds and research will hopefully provide more clarity and answers. Conclusions should be left for when the evidence is clearly strong enough to make them. What’s the hurry?

Well, apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that Joe’s evidence is not ‘strong’. I don’t ‘know’ what Joe found and it’s obviously debatable as to ‘what’ exactly he found. Like I said, it’s suggestive and interesting. Future finds and research will hopefully provide more clarity and answers. Conclusions should be left for when the evidence is clearly strong enough to make them. What’s the hurry?

There are no prizes for second place. What we found is actually pretty clear. We found fossils identical to previously described Ediacara in younger sediments. Our ages show that the range of these fossils should be extended by more than 100 million years. I think that’s pretty cool and worthy of publication. The issue of contention is what exactly do these fossils represent. Are they metazoans or something else? We can’t answer that at present, but we sure can let others know that the fossils are there and they are well-dated and are identical to previously described Ediacara. I see no reason to hold off publication until every single question is answered. Science progresses by challenging the status quo and getting others to think.

jmeert said:

Well, apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that Joe’s evidence is not ‘strong’. I don’t ‘know’ what Joe found and it’s obviously debatable as to ‘what’ exactly he found. Like I said, it’s suggestive and interesting. Future finds and research will hopefully provide more clarity and answers. Conclusions should be left for when the evidence is clearly strong enough to make them. What’s the hurry?

There are no prizes for second place. What we found is actually pretty clear. We found fossils identical to previously described Ediacara in younger sediments. Our ages show that the range of these fossils should be extended by more than 100 million years. I think that’s pretty cool and worthy of publication. The issue of contention is what exactly do these fossils represent. Are they metazoans or something else? We can’t answer that at present, but we sure can let others know that the fossils are there and they are well-dated and are identical to previously described Ediacara. I see no reason to hold off publication until every single question is answered. Science progresses by challenging the status quo and getting others to think.

Absolutely Joe, I second it. Kris thinks that everything needs to be settled first before scientific results can be published (Well that hasn’t stop Intelligent Design mendacious intellectual pornographers like Dembski from coming up with such absurd intellectual flim-flam like Complex Specified Information and the Explanatory Filter.). I think what you and your colleagues have found does have ample scientific merit and is worthy of publication, and am delighted that it was published recently.

jmeert said:

Well, apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that Joe’s evidence is not ‘strong’. I don’t ‘know’ what Joe found and it’s obviously debatable as to ‘what’ exactly he found. Like I said, it’s suggestive and interesting. Future finds and research will hopefully provide more clarity and answers. Conclusions should be left for when the evidence is clearly strong enough to make them. What’s the hurry?

There are no prizes for second place. What we found is actually pretty clear. We found fossils identical to previously described Ediacara in younger sediments. Our ages show that the range of these fossils should be extended by more than 100 million years. I think that’s pretty cool and worthy of publication. The issue of contention is what exactly do these fossils represent. Are they metazoans or something else? We can’t answer that at present, but we sure can let others know that the fossils are there and they are well-dated and are identical to previously described Ediacara. I see no reason to hold off publication until every single question is answered. Science progresses by challenging the status quo and getting others to think.

For Joe Meert, so then what is the evidence (or general category of evidence) that would resolve the issue of metazoan vs non-metazoan remains in your new find? I’m confident you’ve done some brainstorming on that.

jmeert said:

Well, apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that Joe’s evidence is not ‘strong’. I don’t ‘know’ what Joe found and it’s obviously debatable as to ‘what’ exactly he found. Like I said, it’s suggestive and interesting. Future finds and research will hopefully provide more clarity and answers. Conclusions should be left for when the evidence is clearly strong enough to make them. What’s the hurry?

There are no prizes for second place. What we found is actually pretty clear. We found fossils identical to previously described Ediacara in younger sediments. Our ages show that the range of these fossils should be extended by more than 100 million years. I think that’s pretty cool and worthy of publication. The issue of contention is what exactly do these fossils represent. Are they metazoans or something else? We can’t answer that at present, but we sure can let others know that the fossils are there and they are well-dated and are identical to previously described Ediacara. I see no reason to hold off publication until every single question is answered. Science progresses by challenging the status quo and getting others to think.

So, your motivation is prizes?

I didn’t say it shouldn’t be published. Publishing, however, doesn’t make a case stronger or weaker. It only makes it more available. The evidence still has to stand or fall on its own.

Prizes as in being the first to report something, yes. Most scientists are genuinely excited about what they do. Scientists are also competitive and want to be the first. If that is a surprise to you, then you don’t know many scientists. The evidence I presented is extremely solid. The ages of the sequence are concordant and will stand the test of time. The fossils are there so it’s hardly something any other scientist can deny. What we can and will argue about is what those fossils represent. We (my group) has no opportunity to go back and revisit the site. By reporting this, it is possible that someone else will be able to go back and delve into the matter a bit further and hopefully learn a bit more about what these fossils are. That’s one reason we reported the find is so that others can work on detailing exactly what these fossils are. However, the notion that we should keep this to ourselves until everything is completely 100% settled is absurd. Science would never progress if scientists were not willing to go ahead and publish controversial results. It would also be pretty boring as well.

jmeert said:

Prizes as in being the first to report something, yes. Most scientists are genuinely excited about what they do. Scientists are also competitive and want to be the first. If that is a surprise to you, then you don’t know many scientists.

In fact, Kris claims to be a scientist, a claim of dubious veracity in my opinion.

The evidence I presented is extremely solid. The ages of the sequence are concordant and will stand the test of time. The fossils are there so it’s hardly something any other scientist can deny. What we can and will argue about is what those fossils represent.

[SNIP]

That’s one reason we reported the find is so that others can work on detailing exactly what these fossils are. However, the notion that we should keep this to ourselves until everything is completely 100% settled is absurd. Science would never progress if scientists were not willing to go ahead and publish controversial results. It would also be pretty boring as well.

Which is a primary reason for publishing any such find: To provide the basis for further research on a disputed issue. Meert and his colleagues did exactly the right thing by publishing it, which is partly why I invited him to write a post on it for PT.

Kris said:

So, your motivation is prizes?

I didn’t say it shouldn’t be published. Publishing, however, doesn’t make a case stronger or weaker. It only makes it more available. The evidence still has to stand or fall on its own.

Practical science is competitive. “Everyone” wants to be the first to publish a find.

I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on details of this particular observation (metazoans possibly 100 million years earlier than previously thought) and only wish to make a general comment.

In science, any carefully described observation, complete with description of the methods of observation, is publishable. This is an essential part of science. One need not have any explanation for the observed phenomenon at the time of reporting a find.

This principle is not limited to palaeontology or biology. It is the same in all the fields of science, including geology, astronomy, cosmology and physics.

Observations form the raw material for hypotheses – and ultimately theories. Observations make or brake the ‘view of science’ at any given time in history.

You said that ‘Publishing only makes the data more available’. Technically, that may be a valid statement. However, availability of data is one of the important aspects of contemporary science.

You also said: “The evidence still has to stand or fall on its own”. I failed to understand the meaning of “evidence” you had in mind. I presume you do not doubt the accuracy the found structures were described (?)

Eric Finn said:

Kris said:

So, your motivation is prizes?

I didn’t say it shouldn’t be published. Publishing, however, doesn’t make a case stronger or weaker. It only makes it more available. The evidence still has to stand or fall on its own.

Practical science is competitive. “Everyone” wants to be the first to publish a find.

I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on details of this particular observation (metazoans possibly 100 million years earlier than previously thought) and only wish to make a general comment.

In science, any carefully described observation, complete with description of the methods of observation, is publishable. This is an essential part of science. One need not have any explanation for the observed phenomenon at the time of reporting a find.

This principle is not limited to palaeontology or biology. It is the same in all the fields of science, including geology, astronomy, cosmology and physics.

Observations form the raw material for hypotheses – and ultimately theories. Observations make or brake the ‘view of science’ at any given time in history.

You said that ‘Publishing only makes the data more available’. Technically, that may be a valid statement. However, availability of data is one of the important aspects of contemporary science.

You also said: “The evidence still has to stand or fall on its own”. I failed to understand the meaning of “evidence” you had in mind. I presume you do not doubt the accuracy the found structures were described (?)

Kris is a troll and should not be bothered with. It has already derailed a number of threads on PT.

Stuart Weinstein said:

Kris is a troll and should not be bothered with. It has already derailed a number of threads on PT.

I had a look at a couple of other threads (e.g. Behe´s review) and found out that Kris is a prolific writer.

Eric

Eric Finn said: I had a look at a couple of other threads (e.g. Behe´s review) and found out that Kris is a prolific writer.

That is an exceptionally kind way of putting it, Mr. Finn! Well done.

Joe, thank you very much for this! I can boast only a single semester in Geology, lo these many moons ago, but it still fascinates me.

The MadPanda, FCD

JM: There are no prizes for second place. What we found is actually pretty clear. We found fossils identical to previously described Ediacara in younger sediments.

It’s very clear, even if not perfectly. This needs be out and I’m glad it’s in press.

JM: Our ages show that the range of these fossils should be extended by more than 100 million years. I think that’s pretty cool and worthy of publication.

Yes, definitely.

JM: The issue of contention is what exactly do these fossils represent. Are they metazoans or something else?

The fact that they match previously described material is enough ID for now. Plus, some sort of metazoan seems by far the best ID, though it’d obviously be good to know more. The fungus and lichen suggestions seem increasingly implausible to me, the more I’ve thought about them. Finding a marine lichen on soft sediment would be more remarkable than extending an animal back 100 million yrs., it seems to me.

JM: We can’t answer that at present, but we sure can let others know that the fossils are there and they are well-dated and are identical to previously described Ediacara. I see no reason to hold off publication until every single question is answered. Science progresses by challenging the status quo and getting others to think.

No reason at all to hold off. This is both solid and very interesting. Remaining questions can always be addressed in future papers. If your report motivates someone to collect more material, and to scatter it around to various collections where it can be studied, all the better.

I hope this creates a stir!

Kris said: So, your motivation is prizes?

I didn’t say it shouldn’t be published. Publishing, however, doesn’t make a case stronger or weaker. It only makes it more available. The evidence still has to stand or fall on its own.

kris, I suspect you are being stupid on purpose. Joe has made a very significant observation- in the sciences we are quite ruthless in condemning error. There is no “second place.”

Some people make careers out of nothing but being critics. They personally never have anything original, nor creative to offer besides their incessant attack on other people’s work. And, this is an undeniable and important function within science. These people are assholes, but without an asshole you will die.

Joe, I think that your “Aspidella morph” is the most compelling for a metazoan.

What if these were traces of substrate modification, then these simple discoids could be a bacterial colony. But (Leaving endosymbiosis aside for just a momment), isn’t that basically what we expect metazoans to have evolved from? So we start with a colonial ciliated eukaryote. The notion that we are to find cell differentiation, and specialization from trace fossils is shaped (pun intentional) from foot prints. My sense is that your “Aspidella morph” is very close to this. I would suggest that the trailing “stem” feature is the impression of a collapsed tube. This would be explicit evidence of cell specialization.

Hi Joe, I’m glad this is finally published! This will encourage people to take a closer look at strata of that age.

For those who don’t know a few things, note that Berkeley’s Proterozoic page directs you to Joe, whose projects include assembling large continents and precambrian biogeography.

Precambrian and especially pre-ediacaran fossils don’t look much like later life and are notoriously hard to recognize. Yet there is ample reason to keep looking for earlier metazoans, considering the animals found at the lowest Cambrian.

In fact, Kris claims to be a scientist, a claim of dubious veracity in my opinion.

Kris has been challenged on this clam many times.

it is nothing but a liar.

it is just here to disrupt.

WHY DO YOU LET IT LIVE?

Gary Hurd said:

Joe, I think that your “Aspidella morph” is the most compelling for a metazoan.

What if these were traces of substrate modification, then these simple discoids could be a bacterial colony. But (Leaving endosymbiosis aside for just a momment), isn’t that basically what we expect metazoans to have evolved from? So we start with a colonial ciliated eukaryote. The notion that we are to find cell differentiation, and specialization from trace fossils is shaped (pun intentional) from foot prints. My sense is that your “Aspidella morph” is very close to this. I would suggest that the trailing “stem” feature is the impression of a collapsed tube. This would be explicit evidence of cell specialization.

Some Aspidella-morph fossils have left the remnants of stalks, showing that they were holdfasts.

One that I saw in “The Rise of Animals” had a very fat stalk.

Pete Dunkelberg said: Precambrian and especially pre-ediacaran fossils don’t look much like later life and are notoriously hard to recognize. Yet there is ample reason to keep looking for earlier metazoans, considering the animals found at the lowest Cambrian.

There are indications of much older metazoa–Chris Nedin mentions them here, though the post is mainly about the dating of them. That latter, BTW, provides a very nice example of dating fossils based on convergent independent estimators.

Kris said: Well, if I had ever said that ID is “true” and/or that the ToE is “false” you might have a point. I’ve never said either.

Which is a fine example of your entire shtick since you arrived here. Like the majority of folks I know personally, and who label themselves as “agnostic”, they never commit to any one position but love to sit in the middle flinging poop in both directions as though they are somehow above it all. Questionable intellectual honesty at best. There’s a cliche term for this but it escapes me at the moment.

(This will be my first and last post directed to this particular troll)

Well I guess it has been decided, by those who are authorized to make all decisions. The traces are definitely from metazoans, they have been named to at least genus, and their age is unquestionable. All the texts can be rewritten now because there’s proof of every contention. No further research or discussion is necessary.

Sound ridiculous? So do the arguments that make it sound like it’s a done deal. RBH originally showed signs of being logical and wise, but now most or all of you are on the ‘it must be true’ bandwagon, and you’re emotionally defending the “evidence”, and attacking me personally for things I didn’t say.

All your attacks on me won’t substantiate Joe’s “evidence” and neither will your enthusiasm about the alleged evidence (that alleged is for you Eric). Substantiation, or not, remains to be seen.

Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that scientists want to be first. The thing is, people around here try to make it sound like scientists are some sort of special humans who only think of the advancement of science, and not of any personal gain from working in science. It’s nice to have it confirmed by at least some of you that I have been right all along about a typical selfish human trait in scientists.

Now, let’s see what some or all of you will read into what I just said that I didn’t actually say. It should be interesting, and amusing.

This happens all the time in the branch of paleontology known as biostratigraphy:

RBH said: That latter, BTW, provides a very nice example of dating fossils based on convergent independent estimators.

It’s often rare to find any igneous rocks associated with sedimentary rocks to have accurate radiometric dating. Usually age is assigned based on the prevalence of certain key fossils of biostratigraphic importance - “index fossils” - that occur in the strata and are known to have wide geographic distributions which are necessary to correlate strata.

Don’t you have anything else to do during the Yuletide season that your savior Jesus Christ would find most commendable? Really think you need to take a vacation from PT, effective immediately:

Kris said:

Well I guess it has been decided, by those who are authorized to make all decisions. The traces are definitely from metazoans, they have been named to at least genus, and their age is unquestionable. All the texts can be rewritten now because there’s proof of every contention. No further research or discussion is necessary.

Sound ridiculous? So do the arguments that make it sound like it’s a done deal. RBH originally showed signs of being logical and wise, but now most or all of you are on the ‘it must be true’ bandwagon, and you’re emotionally defending the “evidence”, and attacking me personally for things I didn’t say.

All your attacks on me won’t substantiate Joe’s “evidence” and neither will your enthusiasm about the alleged evidence (that alleged is for you Eric). Substantiation, or not, remains to be seen.

Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that scientists want to be first. The thing is, people around here try to make it sound like scientists are some sort of special humans who only think of the advancement of science, and not of any personal gain from working in science. It’s nice to have it confirmed by at least some of you that I have been right all along about a typical selfish human trait in scientists.

Now, let’s see what some or all of you will read into what I just said that I didn’t actually say. It should be interesting, and amusing.

OK, no more of this BS. I’m getting chemo again today, as I did yesterday, and won’t be in shape to referee comments. So I’m closing them for the time being.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on December 25, 2010 8:18 AM.

Behe’s review in context, or what’s the point? was the previous entry in this blog.

Ilex sp. Mahonia sp. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter