April 1, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Can Delicate Fossil Embryos Survive 570 Million Years?

Scientists and English and American universities are trying to understand how to preserve biological embryos such as those found in Cambrian rock claimed to be 570 million years old, reports a press release from Indiana University.  Normally, such soft tissues would disappear within a month.  “It’s like trying to fossilize soap bubbles” they said.  “Some investigators showed that these fossils are being preserved with calcium phosphate, but they haven’t explained how embryos could survive long enough for that to happen.”  They are working on the hypothesis that hydrogen sulfide might encase the embryos in a fool’s-gold envelope of pyrite.  This work relates to the Cambrian explosion, of which the press release stated, “Much mystery surrounds the sudden appearance of animals in the fossil record, between 500 and 600 million years ago.  Within a few million years, the fossil record goes from zero evidence of animals to great diversity in animal forms, including anomalocarids and trilobites.”
    Their work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

1Raff et al., “Experimental taphonomy shows the feasibility of fossil embryos,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print March 29, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0601536103.

If they can get the soap bubble to fossilize longer than a month, it doesn’t follow that it will stay that way for 570 million years.  It’s time for the evidence to throw some serious challenges to the dating scheme of the evolutionary biologists and geologists.

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Categories: Fossils

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