invertebrate to vertebrate fossils out of order?

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invertebrate to vertebrate fossils out of order?

Post by eNathan » Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:21 pm

I believe in evolution. The Cambrian Explosion has always been a bit hard for me to believe, but I recently got stumped by this guy who explained that there is no clear transition from invertebrate to vertebrate, and that the fossils are in the wrong order. He then pointed out this fish here that dated to 530 MYA, 50 million years before the first supposed fish. Could the dating be flawed? I find it incredibly difficult to believe (on top of the extraordinary nature of the Cambrian Explosion) that fish also popped up at that 530 MYA mark as well, with no apparent evolution.

I did some research into the supposed transition, and the fossils that were point out are:
Cathaymyrus diadexus

When I researched it, I found it incredibly hard to find any dates or "earliast known fossil" of these creatures. (is there a better online database for researching fossils than wikipedia?) Wikipedia rarely dates any of these fossils: when I did find dates for them, however, they're completly out of order. They're all "early cambrian," and sometimes the fish are precambrian while they're ancestors are early cambrian. There is no clear transition. They all just appear either at the same time or one before the other.

I also havn't been able to find any article explaining this supposed transition.. I can't help but say that this creationist must be right. Can somebody help explain it to me?

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Post by alextemplet » Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:18 pm

Dating fossils requires a bit of guesswork; you can establish the general period with some certainty but not the exact date. Also, just because you find a fossil at such-and-such a date doesn't mean the species lived only at that date, and it may well have existed earlier and later.

That said, your creationist friend is sadly mistaken. The transition from invertebrate to vertebrate is not a difficult one, and intermediate forms have and still exist in the form of lancelets and tunicates. More ground-breaking was the transition from protostome to deuterostome.
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Post by Darby » Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:47 pm

There are a lot of factors to consider on fossils that old - first, there are limited numbers of good fossils from that period, and the ones that exist may be from very different environments well-separated on the planet, especially with the "recent" end of the Snowball Period. The Cambrian Explosion is at least partially an artifact of that problem.

I don't see why the appearance of vertebrates during that time is any odder or in need of special explanation than the development of any of the extant phyla.

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