Cambrian Fossil: What Is It?
A Cambrian fossil discovered in China may represent a new phylum, reports BBC News. Vetustodermis, discovered in 1979, looks like a flatworm with eye stalks and antenna. It resembles a mollusk or arthropod in some ways, but scientists aren’t sure how to classify it. Forcing it into any existing group requires “pushing and pulling” that is “messy,” the article states. David Bottjer (USC) seems willing to open up a new category. “We have always been intrigued by the many molluscan features of these fossils,” he said, “but in the great menagerie of organisms that have inhabited Earth through life’s long history, we may come to conclude that Vetustodermis indeed represents a new phylum.” (Within each kingdom, a phylum [pl. phyla] is the highest rank of classification.)
Jonathan Todd (Natural History Museum, London) doesn’t want to create new phyla willy-nilly any time a new organism is found with unique features. His reasoning is evolutionary; he criticizes fellow taxonomists who are “not thinking in the phylogenetic sense” to establish where each discovery fits into “the greater evolutionary tree” of life. He reasons, “recent phyla have got to connect somehow.”
One thing is for certain: this animal was complex. Within the evolutionists’ own dating scheme, this animal is right at the beginning of multicellular life, and already has antennae, eyes, and propulsion. Only the cartoonish Popeye theory of evolution (05/31/2005) could believe such complex systems emerged suddenly without precursors.
When playing connect-the-dots, the more dots, the better. Collecting more fossils is like adding dots. When the underlying picture that slowly emerges does not fit one’s preconceptions, it is not fair to push and pull the dots toward where one wants them to be.