December 30, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Cambrian Brains Found

Exquisitely preserved fossils of Cambrian arthropods show minute details of brain and central nervous system.

Paleontologists have seen remains of nerves and brains in Cambrian fossils before, but these newly-announced ones exceed all previous ones for detail. Coverage in Phys.org shows that Harvard scientists are befuddled that this much detail of soft tissue could survive before fossilization, and remain visible for over 500 million years.

It is a widely held belief among archaeologists [sic] that soft matter, particularly soft neural matter, cannot become fossilized. Prior research has suggested that such soft material will always be broken down by biological processes before fossilization can take place. But in recent years, several research teams have reported finding what they believe to be fossilized nervous tissue in Cambrian-period arthropods—ancient creatures of the insect, spider and crustacean family. Most such claims have been met with mixed reactions by most in the archaeology [sic] community. In this new effort, the researchers report evidence of neuroglial matter in a fossilized arthropod from the Cambrian period.

(They probably mean paleontologists, not archaeologists).

See Phys.org article for caption and credits.

Take a look at the photos in the press release, and even more in the open-access paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It’s not clear from the articles if the remains are primordial material, or have undergone mineralization by replacement. The paper says,

Our results are directly relevant to euarthropod fossils, but these conclusions are also broadly applicable to other organisms from Burgess Shale-type deposits with neurological features such as the priapulid Ottoia prolifica and the annelid Canadia spinosa. Contrary to recent claims that the preservation of neurological tissues may require alternative taphonomic models, early and middle Cambrian Konservat-Lagerstätten [exceptionally preserved fossils] from South China, North Greenland and North America, this study) consistently show CNS expressed as carbonaceous films (figure 5), in accordance with the proposed mechanism of Burgess Shale-type preservation of labile tissues. Instead, we may seek to further refine our knowledge of how the conditions that produce Burgess Shale-type fossils contribute to the stabilization of non-biomineralizing tissues in Cambrian deposits in order to better understand the limits of exceptional preservation.

Recall that the Cambrian period records the first instances of multicellular animal life, if the Ediacaran fauna are not considered animals. Whether or not the fossil material is primordial soft tissue or not, two important consequences of these finds stand out: (1) the material had to fossilize rapidly without modification, and (2) the fossils did not undergo modification for half a billion years. Note also that these levels of exceptional preservation have been found on multiple continents: at least China, Greenland and North America.

Does it sound plausible that these fossils are really that old? Could they fossilize rapidly and stay unaltered during 500 million Darwin Years without suffering bioturbation, fracturing and geological modification during multiple rounds of plate tectonics, earthquakes, floods and volcanic activity? Doesn’t it make more sense that the Darwin Years are mythical, and they are not really that old? Let’s open our minds to follow the evidence. Pay attention to the “surprise effect” in the secular community: “It is a widely held belief … that soft matter, particularly soft neural matter, cannot become fossilized.” They were surprised. That tells you something. Creationists predict fossils will be found to be young, and not show Darwinian evolution. The evidence supports the creation, and contradicts evolutionary predictions – as shown by the astonished look on their faces.

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Trilobites are arthropods. These trilobites died in a mass death event. Wyoming Dinosaur Center (DFC)

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