Cambrian Jellyfish Found
It’s official: jellyfish were part of the Cambrian explosion. National Geographic News has pictures of well-preserved jellyfish fossils from Utah that show even the “distinct bell shape, tentacles, muscle scars, and possibly even the gonads.”
These fossils are dated by evolutionary standards at 500 million years old, into the period of the Cambrian explosion. This nearly doubles the presumed age of the previously jellyfish fossils identified with certainty. Not only that, the specimens appear to represent three different groups.
What does this mean for evolutionary theory? “If verified, these connections would suggest that jellies either evolved into their current, complex form very quickly around 500 million years ago, or they evolved slowly and have existed much longer than has been estimated.” No sure evidence exists for Precambrian jellyfish or for any intermediate forms leading up to them.
David Tyler commented on this paper in Access Research Network. The original paper, with photographs, can be found on PLoS One.1 The discoverers explained that alleged cnidarians (a group including jellyfish) have been reported from time to time, but this was the first case of specimens with unambiguous diagnostic characters. “The early divergence of cnidarians in animal phylogeny leaves little doubt of their presence in the Cambrian; however, there have been no previous reports of fossils possessing preserved characters diagnostic of particular medusozoan clades,” they said. “The absence of preservation detail in medusozoan fossils has thus far hampered our knowledge of the extent of cnidarian diversity and complexity that existed during this key time in animal evolution.” They surveyed the best-known examples, but concluded that the only Paleozoic fossils possessing clear diagnostic characteristics of jellyfish previously identified were in Pennsylvanian strata, considered 300 to 315 million years ago. Middle Cambrian is dated at 515 m.y.a.
Their best guesses identified the eight exceptionally-preserved specimens as members of three classes: Hydrozoa (hydra, hydroids and hydromedusae), Cubozoa (box jellyfish) and Scyphozoa (true jellyfish). Some of these have muscles, stinging cell arrays, complex sexual organs and behaviors (including mate recognition and courtship), and complex eyes (see 04/01/2007, 05/13/2005). The fossil specimens resemble living species. Other families of cnidarians, furthermore, have also been identified in Cambrian strata – such as corals and sea anemones. In their thinking, this could only mean one thing: “it suggests that the modern cnidarian classes had evolved by the Cambrian. Further, some of these fossils share commonalities with modern cnidarian orders and families; this may indicate that a significant amount of diversification within the Cnidaria had also occurred by the Cambrian.”
1. Cartwright et al, “Exceptionally Preserved Jellyfishes from the Middle Cambrian,” Public Library of Science One, 2(10): e1121 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001121.
Of course, they never consider the logical possibility – that evolutionary theory has been falsified again, so living things must have been created. “At half a billion years old, the fossils represent the oldest jellyfish ever found and push back the known existence of jellies 205 million years, scientists say.” Well, if “scientists” say such things, what does that do to their credibility? We have heard this line so many times before, even three times just last month (10/30/2007, 10/04/2007), 10/03/2007). Give up, evolutionists! It’s over. You can’t hide behind the “scientist” badge and say stupid things. Now you are pushing pure mythology on people and talking like BabbleOnion soothslayers.*