November 9, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Oldest Shrimp Looks Shrimpy

PhysOrg shows a picture of a fossil shrimp found in Oklahoma next to a live shrimp.  They look identical, yet the article claims the fossil is 360 million years old – the oldest known decapod (a group containing shrimp, crabs, and lobsters).  The fossil shrimp even has fine preservation of the muscles of its tail, “extremely rare in fossils.”  The article claims it was preserved so well because it landed on the seafloor in acidic water with low oxygen, and then was “buried rapidly.”  As to what this find signifies, “The fossil is a very important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods,” one of the scientists from Kent State said.  “However, more finds are necessary.”

Calling this complex animal an “important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods” is like finding a complete building, with pipes, electricity, structural steel, and all the interior and exterior furnishings, and calling it an important step in unraveling the evolution of buildings, then claiming that more finds are necessary to unravel the complete story.  What’s unraveling here is the evolutionary story itself.

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