Cambrian Explosion Still Troubling to Evolutionists
Despite Darwinian efforts to muffle it or spread it into a diffuse rumble, the Cambrian explosion (the near-sudden emergence of most animal body plans in the fossil record) was loud and snappy. A new phylogenetic study by Antonis Rokas (MIT), Dirk Krüger, and Sean B. Carroll (U of Wisconsin), published in Science this week,1 could not rid the models of rapid evolution across diverse clades, what they call “radiations compressed in time.” Their new broad study of gene sequences reached the same verdict as the fossil record. Their technical terms, translated into plain English, mean that the Cambrian explosion was real:
The phylogenetic relationships among most metazoan phyla remain uncertain. We obtained large numbers of gene sequences from metazoans, including key understudied taxa. Despite the amount of data and breadth of taxa analyzed, relationships among most metazoan phyla remained unresolved. In contrast, the same genes robustly resolved phylogenetic relationships within a major clade of Fungi of approximately the same age as the Metazoa. The differences in resolution within the two kingdoms suggest that the early history of metazoans was a radiation compressed in time, a finding that is in agreement with paleontological inferences. Furthermore, simulation analyses as well as studies of other radiations in deep time indicate that, given adequate sequence data, the lack of resolution in phylogenetic trees is a signature of closely spaced series of cladogenetic events. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Three other scientists commenting on the story in the same issue of Science2 tried to find ways around the study but were not too successful. “Is the big bang in animal evolution real?” they asked. Maybe it can be circumvented with more data, or with different analytical methods. “In light of these concerns, are the conclusions of Rokas et al. justified? Should we ignore their study? Most certainly not, because they have produced a wealth of data and have shown that it might just be possible that the fossil record can be reconciled with molecular data.” The resolution, however, was left in future tense (with emphasis on tense).
Rokas et al. did not seem so optimistic. A press release from University of Wisconsin underscored Carroll’s conclusion that the animal family “tree” is looking “bushy” in places. There were “frenetic bursts of evolution” he said. Despite their efforts to resolve the record, “instead of a tree, we got a bush where many branches sprout close together.” He said it was hard to distinguish evolutionary events, even with “boatloads of data.” Rokas found a way to put a positive spin on it. “The difficulty we are facing in telling animal relationships apart is evolution’s signature that some very interesting evolutionary stuff happened here,” he chuckled.
1Antonis Rokas, Dirk Krüger, Sean B. Carroll, “Animal Evolution and the Molecular Signature of Radiations Compressed in Time,” Science, 23 December 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5756, pp. 1933 – 1938, DOI: 10.1126/science.1116759.
2Lars S. Jermiin, Leon Poladian, Michael A. Charleston, “Evolution: Is the ‘Big Bang’ in Animal Evolution Real?”, Science, 23 December 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5756, pp. 1910 – 1911, DOI: 10.1126/science.1122440.
Very interesting evolutionary stuff, indeed (but only to a demolition expert). The Darwin Party knows that critics hammer the point that the Cambrian explosion falsifies evolutionary theory. Oh, how the Darwinists would love to get around it! These two papers and the news article show that they cannot. Look at the bars on their timeline, representing the data: they stack nearly on top of one another. To the left are fictional, imaginary dashed lines connecting them into a phylogenetic tree, with absolutely no data, fossil or genetic, to support the inference. Should they be depriving students of these embarrassing findings? Most textbooks glibly state that evolution is a fact, and the fossil record proves it. This is a snow job if there ever was one. Demand accountability.