Crinoid Pigment: 240 Million Years and No Evolution
Pigments from crinoids fossilized in early Mesozoic strata are identical to modern counterparts.
In 2013 there were reports of fossilized crinoids from Paleozoic strata (Mississippian, 350 million years) with preserved pigments produced by the organisms (see 2/22/13). That finding was since cast into doubt, but Klaus Wolkenstein of the University of Göttingen has something almost as good: unambiguous pigments from Mesozoic crinoid fossils (Triassic, 240 million years up to Jurassic, ~150 my) from multiple locations around the world (Europe, Africa and the Middle East) that are virtually identical to modern examples.
The pigments he studied are “secondary metabolites” made by cellular machines in the organism. Secondary metabolites “usually are not preserved,” he says. These complex organic molecules with 9 or 10 carbon rings sometimes have bromine atoms attached in living examples; the bromines are not found in the fossil examples, probably due to diagenesis (chemical changes between deposition and fossilization) and the fact that chemical bonds of bromine to carbon are not as stable as carbon-carbon bonds.
In his paper in PNAS, Wolkenstein leaves no doubt that he is an evolutionist; he claims the pigments evolved by natural selection. “Structural conservatism in natural products over geological time indicates that the compounds had functions that were important for the organisms that produced them,” he says. Still, he couldn’t help but be surprised at the “exceptional preservation” of these molecules. He used the word “persistent” and “widespread” often in the paper. Here are some other surprising aspects of the story:
- Multiple proofs: “However, most interesting are chemical proofs of these pigments in Jurassic representatives of two orders that still exist today … allowing direct comparison of ancient and modern crinoid pigments within the same clade.
- Oxygen surprise: “It is striking that fossil crinoids with preserved hypericinoid pigments generally are found associated with hardgrounds, oolitic limestones, or reefal carbonates (Table 1), which were deposited in well-oxygenated environments where exceptional preservation of organic substances usually would be least expected.
- Sandstone surprise: “In the case of the Tendaguru locality, which is mainly known for the discovery of dinosaur remains, the pigments are preserved even in fossils from a sandstone-dominated coastal lithofacies. The embedding sediments are predominantly light colored and show low contents of organic matter.” However, pigments were not found in bituminous sediments, like shale, even though one famous lower-Jurassic site in southern Germany, the Posidonia Shale, contains “well-preserved isocrinids and fossils with organic tissue material.”
- Rapid burial: “It is also striking that the pigments generally are preserved in articulated crinoid remains, suggesting rapid burial of the animals, and in more massive structures such as the roots of millericrinids.” Crinoids are delicate and usually fall apart (disarticulate) easily after death.
- Global distribution, longevity and diversity: “…the spatial distribution of hypericinoid pigments among fossil crinoids is almost worldwide, the stratigraphic distribution ranges at least back to the Middle Triassic, and the taxonomic distribution comprises representatives from at least four (Encrinida, Isocrinida, Comatulida, and Millericrinida) of the eight post-Paleozoic crinoid orders.” The qualifier “at least” implies more might be found.
- Remarkable stasis: “Almost the same pigments were found in all samples independent of occurrence, stratigraphy, or taxon of the crinoids (Table 1). Despite minor diagenetic changes … the pigments preserved in the fossil crinoids show astonishing similarities to those of their extant relatives.“
The paper includes photos of some of the fossils that are so detailed, they look as if living crinoids were spray-painted with acrylic. The original pigment colors are clearly evident. Wolkenstein doesn’t rule out the possibility older examples will be found; “the occurrence of hypericinoids and related pigments in Paleozoic crinoids cannot be excluded,” he says. Still, finding intact molecules from delicate creatures said to be 240 million years old is remarkable, to say nothing of the fact that they have escaped evolutionary change in all that time.
What’s wrong with this picture? It’s the millions of years! All the puzzles evaporate if you look at the evidence objectively, and conclude the fossils are young–thousands of years old, not hundreds of millions. Does this not fit the Biblical flood like a hand in glove? Rapid burial, global distribution, exceptional preservation, remarkable stasis: those are things you would expect from a global catastrophe that overwhelmed ecosystems before they could respond.
Once again (2/02/15), we find the Darwin moyboys having to rescue their timeline from the evidence. ‘The pigments were so important, they didn’t need to evolve,’ he confabulates, even though he claims that crinoids underwent a dramatic radiation after the fictional “Permian extinction” (one of many imaginary Darwin episodes in their millions-of-years theater plot; all the extinctions fit into the Flood year except a few later ones in the subsequent Ice Age). What kind of theory tells you opposite things? “On the one hand, everything is in a constant state of evolutionary flux, but on the other hand, some parts are so functionally important they stay the same for 240 million years.” With that kind of contortion, you can explain anything. That’s why Darwinism is not science; it’s confabulation.*
*Need more evidence? Look what some of the Darwin moyboys are saying causes mass extinctions and global catastrophes: a substance they can neither explain nor describe: dark energy! (PhysOrg). At least the Biblical Flood has documentary evidence to match its geological evidence.