The new record holders look identical to those alive today.
Claimed 230 million years old, 100 million years older than the previous record holders, fossils of arthropods in amber (fossilized tree sap) were reported in PNAS (Schmidt et al., “Arthropods in amber from the Triassic Period,” PNAS August 27, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1208464109). The little bugs, including two mites and a fly, haven’t done much evolving in all that time. Science Daily and PhysOrg both quoted co-author David Grimaldi, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology “and a world authority on amber and fossil arthropods,” expressing his surprise at this example of extreme evolutionary stasis:
Two of the specimens are new species of mites, named Triasacarus fedelei and Ampezzoa triassica. They are the oldest fossils in an extremely specialized group called Eriophyoidea that has about 3,500 living species, all of which feed on plants and sometimes form abnormal growth called “galls.” The ancient gall mites are surprisingly similar to ones seen today.
“You would think that by going back to the Triassic you’d find a transitional form of gall mite, but no,” Grimaldi said. “Even 230 million years ago, all of the distinguishing features of this family were there—a long, segmented body; only two pairs of legs instead of the usual four found in mites; unique feather claws, and mouthparts.”
He didn’t specify who would think that. Presumably, he was referring to himself, or to other evolutionists. According to the BBC News, Dr. David Penney (U of Manchester) was just as surprised: “The results presented here skip the Jurassic entirely and go back a step further to the Triassic,” he said. “This was not expected.”
Another evolutionary conundrum is that most living gall mites feed on flowering plants, which (in evolutionary time) would not appear on the scene for another 90 million years. The article offered the following theory rescue device:
The ancient mites likely fed on the leaves of the tree that ultimately preserved them, a conifer in the extinct family Cheirolepidiaceae. Although about 97 percent of today’s gall mites feed on flowering plants, Triasacarus fedelei and Ampezzoa triassica existed prior to the appearance and rapid radiation of flowering plants. This finding reveals the evolutionary endurance of the mites.
“We now know that gall mites are very adaptable,” Grimaldi said. “When flowering plants entered the scene, these mites shifted their feeding habits, and today, only 3 percent of the species live on conifers. This shows how gall mites tracked plants in time and evolved with their hosts.”
The amber droplets were found high in the Dolomite Alps of northeastern Italy. To explain why they showed up there, Science Now explained, “were probably trapped during a 10-million-year climatic shift that caused the trees to produce more resin than usual,” without commenting on what this could imply for today’s political controversy over climate change. “Their presence in 230-million-year-old amber, researchers say, shows for the first time that mites evolved long before the appearance of flowering plants.”
It shows no such thing. These are not “ancient” mites. They are identical to modern mites, so they are dead modern mites, OK? Grimaldi said so; he expected transitional forms, and they were not there. Why do we need evolutionists to explain away the evidence? This story is another example of how to understand the real finding, you first have to work your way past the Darwin Party guards who try to explain what you are about to see. Just let the evidence speak for itself. Notice their surprise in the abstract, and the immediate retreat to just-so storytelling:
Antiquity of the gall mites in much their extant form was unexpected, particularly with the Triassic species already having many of their present-day features (such as only two pairs of legs); further, it establishes conifer feeding as an ancestral trait. Feeding by the fossil mites may have contributed to the formation of the amber droplets, but we find that the abundance of amber during the Carnian (ca. 230 Ma) is globally anomalous for the pre-Cretaceous and may, alternatively, be related to paleoclimate. Further recovery of arthropods in Carnian-aged amber is promising and will have profound implications for understanding the evolution of terrestrial members of the most diverse phylum of organisms.
So let’s get this straight. Some highly complex creatures (complete with articulated limbs, mouth parts and specialized organs), which are also “very adaptable,” just lived in their little conifer-feeding niche for 230 million Darwin Years, having billions of kids exposed to a world of change – mutations, cosmic rays, meteor strikes, global extinctions, glaciers, earthquakes, tectonic plate subductions, volcanoes, mountain uplifts and climate shifts – to say nothing of the incessant evolutionary pressure to evolve – but lived out their entire history in some evolutionary Brigadoon. (This is known, we are told, as “evolutionary endurance.”) Now they show up in amber with no transitional forerunners and no morphological changes, oblivious to the Darwinian tale of the emergence of flowering plants, dinosaurs, mammals and man. Yes indeed: this will have profound implications for understanding evolution.
Actually, the “understanding” produced, and the “profound implication” is this: evolution has been falsified (again). It’s not surprising, therefore, that complex, fully-functional arthropods are also found in the Cambrian explosion, where there are no transitional forms, either. David Grimaldi may be a world authority on amber and fossil arthropods, but not on following the evidence where it leads. “You would think,” he said, “you would find a transitional form.” In psychology, this is known as projection. One can only hope he would not think of imposing his anti-empirical thoughts on others. Now go show this to Bill Nye.