Fat Chance: Evolutionists Push Date of Soft Tissue Back 558 Million Years
The latest find of original molecules in a fossil should falsify long ages, but the discoverers use it to celebrate Darwinian evolution.
You remember the gasp by Lesley Stahl when Mary Schweitzer showed her soft tissue in a dinosaur bone in a 60 Minutes episode (CBS News, YouTube, 2010). “Impossible!”, all the experts said, because dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. No origional material should remain; even the bones should have been replaced by rock. But with their own eyes, they were seeing evidence of red blood cells and stretchy soft tissues inside a T rex femur. Creationists who don’t accept millions of years were saying, ‘We told you so!’ but their triumph was met with obdurate scorn. They watched with chagrin as all the evolutionists never even blinked. Darwinist reactions consisted of assertions by faith: ‘Well, what do you know! Dinosaur tissue can last for millions of years!’ Since then, numerous cases of soft tissue have been reported, some of them far older than Schweitzer’s (see RSR list), yet the Darwin Party refuses to concede they were wrong.
Now, a fossil has been reported by paleontologists from the Australian National University (ANU) that could top them all. They found original molecules of fat (sterols and lipids) in specimens of Dickinsonia, a creature evolutionists insist is 558 million years old. Bobrovskiy et al published their results in Science Magazine 21 Sept 2018, “Ancient steroids establish the Ediacaran fossil Dickinsonia as one of the earliest animals.”
Note: Dickinsonia lived in a time when Darwinists believe there were no animals at all: just microbes and a few enigmatic colonies of lazy bottom-dwellers called Ediacarans. Although Ediacaran fossil impressions are found around the world (they had no hard parts, so they only left impressions), most evolutionists believe they went extinct around 540 million years ago, before the first true animals burst onto the scene in a ‘geologically instantaneous’ period called the Cambrian Explosion, which lasted about 6 million Darwin Years. Charles Darwin himself considered the near-instant appearance of complex animals as perhaps the biggest challenge that could be lodged against his theory (see the book Darwin’s Doubt and the film Darwin’s Dilemma). The Cambrian animals had hierarchical body plans with organs and systems (including eyes, digestive and reproductive organs), and moved with muscles and nerves, whereas the Ediacarans did not. For that reason, and because of stratigraphical evidence, most evolutionists have not considered Dickinsonia and other Ediacarans to be ancestors of the Cambrian animals.
Original biomolecules 558 million years old? Surely this would break the bank (read about “reckless drafts on the bank of time,” 2 July 2007) and force Darwinians to give up on their beloved millions of years. There is absolutely no way any fossil would contain any original biological material that long, one would think, especially if the organism had been buried in marine sediments permeated with water. Most evolutionists themselves believed that until recently. Biological material decays over time, even when entombed in dry rock. Add to that the geological changes that should have occurred in 558 million years—continents rising and sinking, tectonic plates subducting, rocks alternately freezing and thawing, and subsequent life churning up the strata. The destructive processes on this dynamic planet should have accelerated the degradation of biological material in less than one million years, let alone 558 million! If dinosaur soft tissue rocked the Darwin boat, Ediacaran soft tissue should sink it. Right?
PhD in Spin Doctoring
Anyone who thinks so underestimates the faith of the Darwin Party. The world may never have witnessed better masters at turning falsifying evidence into triumphs for their worldview. Ignoring the problem of keeping fat molecules intact that long, they are spinning the story this way: (a) Cholesterol is only found in animals. Therefore, (b) Dickinsonia must have been an animal. Consequently, (c) They have found an ancestor to animals before the Cambrian Explosion. Darwin has been vindicated!
Believe it or not, this is exactly how the discoverers spun it. Watch how they do it in a video in the ANU press release, that could be used as a training model for turning defeat into victory. First we see co-author Jochen Brocks expressing dumbfounded surprise at his colleague’s identification of cholesterol in the Dickinsonia fossil. He could not deny it:
Well when Ilya showed me the results, I just couldn’t believe it. I immediately saw the significance. It was completely clear. the results are black and white; there’s nothing to interpret.
But does he question the age of the fossil? Does he consider the problem of how original material could last for 558 million years?
These creatures in fact produced cholesterol, which is the hallmark of animals. It tells us that, in fact, this creature was our earliest ancestor.
Instead of laughing this performance off the stage and hitting the gong, the media loved it! They embraced it, treating it like one of the best acts of Darwin’s Got Talent they had ever seen! Watch the headlines and quotes in the secular media:
- Confirming the identity of early animals (Sacha Vignieri, Science). “This supports the idea that the Ediacaran biota may have been a precursor to the explosion of animal forms later observed in the Cambrian, about 500 million years ago.”
- ‘Holy Grail’ fossil mystery cracked – 558 million-year-old fat reveals earliest known animal (Chris Ciaccia, Fox News). “The fossil fat now confirms Dickinsonia as the oldest known animal fossil, solving a decades-old mystery that has been the Holy Grail of palaeontology.“
- Fat from 558 million years ago reveals earliest known animal (Astrobiology Magazine). NASA regurgitated the press release without criticism, with its quote of Jochen Brocks saying, “The fossil fat molecules that we’ve found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years ago, millions of years earlier than previously thought.“
- Ditto for Science Daily.
- Earliest known animal was a half-billion-year-old underwater blob (Alice Klein in New Scientist). “Now, Jochen Brocks at Australian National University and his colleagues have found fat molecules in 558 million-year-old fossils of Dickinsonia – a type of Ediacaran – that confirms it was an early animal.‘”
- Earliest animal fossils are identified (Paul Rincon for the BBC News). “Scientists have identified the earliest known animal in the geological record.“
The only reporters who showed a little bit of mild restraint wrote in Nature and Science:
World’s first animal was a pancake-shaped prehistoric ocean dweller (Jeremy Rehm, Nature). Rehm says that proving that Dickinsonia are related to Cambrian animals “remains challenging,” and admits that Ediacarans “remain a mysterious group whose relation to any living organisms is uncertain.” He does not question the dates, however. “Under the right conditions, these chemicals can persist for millions of years, and so help to determine a fossilized organism’s evolutionary relationships.” That’s an assertion with no references. How could he prove it or test it?
Chemical clues to the earliest animal fossils (Roger E. Summons and Douglas H. Erwin, Science). Erwin is one of the leading Darwinian experts on the Cambrian Explosion, fully aware of its challenges, so perhaps he considers it wise not to bang the victory drum too loudly. He doesn’t call Dickinsonia an animal, and he doesn’t call it an ancestor. But as a Darwin Party loyalist, he would never question the ages of the fossils. His last sentences are hopeful monsters of wishful thinking:
Because molecular clock estimates and morphological characters from fossils offer limited resolution, our best hope for unraveling the early history of animals and the affinities of the Ediacara biota lies with identification of biomarkers that allow us to differentiate specific metazoan clades, particularly among the bilaterians. Further refining the phylogenetic signals from biomarkers may also help to resolve the early history of animals during the Cryogenian and early Ediacaran. Moreover, the fossil-specific biomarker approach taken by Bobrovskiy et al. promises to yield many new insights into the fossilization processes that led to soft-tissue preservation across the animal kingdom and throughout geological time.
This guarded statement appears to indicate that Erwin knows about pervasive soft-tissue reports, and may be worried about how to explain them over “geological time.”
Update 9/27/18: At Evolution News, paleontologist Günter Bechly has given a detailed look at all the evidence, explaining “Why Dickinsonia Was Most Probably Not an Ediacaran Animal.” He goes through all the papers written about this creature over the last 20 years, including the recent paper by Bobrovskiy et al., showing that the claims by Jochen Brocks are overblown when all the morphological and taphonomic evidence is considered. The cholesterol evidence is not conclusive, he explains, because plants and microbes also produce these molecules.
Previously, hydrocarbon biomarkers for steranes had even been reported in 2.7-billion-year-old rocks (Brocks et al. 1999), but were later rejected as contaminations (French et al. 2015), so that Brocks had to submit a correction to his paper. This author is the very same Jochen Brocks whose lab is responsible for the new claim of cholesterol in Dickinsonia. Just saying. It should also be mentioned that in the other dickinsoniid Andiva, studied by Bobrovskiy (2018b), the steroid biomarkers were confounded by background signals and harder to interpret (Summons & Erwin 2018), which may be read as: they did not give the desired result of a metazoan nature.
Although Bechly does not question the age of the fossil, he does imply that original biomolecules should not last that long: “the found cholesteroid should neither have been preserved for more than a half billion years, nor should it be expected to be found in invertebrate animals at all, including an Ediacaran stem group representative.”
Can the world’s experts really follow Darwin like lemmings off a cliff? You just watched them do it. Brett Miller’s latest cartoon (a CEH exclusive) illustrates the situation: Evidence be darned. Wherever Master Darwin leads, we follow with eyes closed just like his!
Here’s another, an illustration by J. Beverly Greene: