Trilobite Eyes Were Already Modern
Some trilobites had compound eyes similar to modern crustaceans and insects. They just popped into existence without ancestors.
They say it is 429 million Darwin Years old. Its eye, however, looks modern. That’s what Michael Marshall announced in New Scientist today (13 Aug 2020):
An animal that lived 429 million years ago had compound eyes almost identical to those of modern insects like bees and dragonflies. The finding implies that the compound eye evolved very early in the history of animals.
“I am quite sure that its roots lie far back in the Precambrian somewhere,” says Brigitte Schoenemann at the University of Cologne in Germany. The Cambrian period, when many of the major animal groups appeared, began about 540 million years ago.
The trilobite had one eye intact that Schoenemann and Euan Clarkson at the University of Edinburgh in the UK took a closer look at. They re-examined a fossil of a 1.2-centimetre-long animal called Aulacopleura koninckii. “It was a trilobite: a marine animal a bit like a woodlouse, related to insects and shrimp.” So even though all trilobites are extinct, some of them do not look much different from animals alive today. Phys.org says,
An exquisitely well preserved 429-million-year-old eye from a marine creature that went extinct before dinosaurs even existed had vision comparable to modern-day bees and dragonflies, researchers said Thursday.
In an effort to show some evolutionary progression, the articles discuss eyes that appeared more “primitive” than this one. Phys.org says, for instance,
While it was previously known that trilobites had these compound eyes, older specimens had “slit formed” eyes, “just scanning the horizon” and without lenses on the visual units.
New Scientist cites a simpler compound eye dated 71 million Darwin Years older:
The oldest known compound eye with preserved internal structures belonged to another trilobite, which lived in the early Cambrian over 500 million years ago. Schoenemann’s team described it in 2017. That eye was more primitive though. “There were no distinct lenses,” says Schoenemann. The ommatidia were topped with “a kind of translucent window, without any capacity of focusing”. Also, the eye only had about 100 ommatidia.
But “primitive” may be in the eye of the beholder. There are living arthropods with as few as 5 ommatidia (Wikipedia), and a fossil specimen of Anomalocaris dated at 515 million Darwin Years already had 16,000 ommatidia in its compound eyes (7 Dec 2011).
Even one ommatidium is a complex assortment of parts. In fruit flies, for instance, “Each ommatidium consists of 14 neighboring cells: 8 photoreceptor neurons in the core, 4 non-neuronal cone cells and 2 primary pigment cells.” What scientists observed in the “oldest known compound eye” could also be a function of how well preserved it was.
The current paper is open access in Nature Scientific Reports:
- Schoenemann, B., Clarkson, E.N.K. Insights into a 429-million-year-old compound eye. Sci Rep 10, 12029 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69219-0.
We show that this Palaeozoic trilobite in principle was equipped with a fully modern type of visual system, a compound eye comparable to that of living bees, dragonflies and many diurnal crustaceans. It is an example of excellent preservation, and we hope that this manuscript will be a starting point for more research work on fossil evidence, and to develop a deeper understanding of the evolution of vision.
But where is the evolution of vision? This eye looks like modern compound eyes. Even the lens diameters match those of living species. Later on, they describe the earlier compound eye as essentially modern, too – in “probably the oldest trilobites that will ever be found.” They also suggest that its “primordial” appearance may be an artifact of preservation:
Recently, the eyes of a very early trilobite were described from the Lower Cambrian (base of the Atdabanian) of Estonia; this species Schmidtiellus reetae (Bergström, 1973)20 is amongst the oldest trilobites of all. First known only as trace fossils at the stratigraphical level from which it comes, trilobite fragments then were found, and finally an almost complete, well preserved specimen was discovered. It is probably ‘physically’ (in body preservation) one of the oldest trilobites that will ever be found. Being excellently preserved in phosphate, it shows distinctive ommatidia. In some ways this is simpler than the eyes of modern apposition type, yet the structures are clearly ommatidia. This eye shows a columnar ommatidium with ~ 8 receptor cells, and a central rhabdom. A whole series of ommatidia can be observed, and each of them is situated in a kind of cellular ‘basket’, separating the individual systems from each other, unlike typical modern apposition eyes. Another difference is that no clear lens can be distinguished, probably because the lens-generating part of the cuticle still had not originated in this early very thin shelled and fragile trilobite. Other points are pigment cells which are evidently not yet defined, and possibly there existed an elongated, pyramidally-shaped crystalline cone, although its shape is not very distinct. Nevertheless S. reetae possessed a typical apposition eye, even if at a quite primordial state.
The first sentence in their Introduction serves as the ‘bottom line’ about trilobite eye evolution:
Trilobites are extinct marine arthropods that dominated the ecosystems of the Palaeozoic. From the very beginning of their appearance they were equipped with compound eyes, which during the Cambrian explosion and later differentiated into highly diverse visual systems.
The point is, eyes were there from the beginning. They didn’t evolve from animals without eyes. And the Cambrian explosion shows a much bigger challenge for Darwinism: most of the major body plans appear abruptly in the fossil record, without ancestors in the Precambrian. See Meyer’s treatise, Darwin’s Doubt.
It isn’t just eyes that Darwinians need to explain. Trilobites also had digestive systems, navigation systems, articulated limbs, sexual reproduction, hierarchical body plans and other sensory organs.
This is just another piece of evidence we have been amassing for two decades, showing that evolutionists believe in Popeye as well as Tinker Bell. According to evolutionists, evolution is like a “tinkerer” who blindly mutates genes, generating complex creatures by chance. Their “Popeye theory of evolution” proposes that eyes just popped into existence (17 Aug 2019), and then stayed the same for hundreds of millions of Darwin years, with only variations on a theme. This is science. Just believe, and the story will knock your socks off.
I’m Popeye the Darwin man;
I fantasize germs to man.
I fight to the finish
To ID diminish;
I’m Popeye the Darwin man.