The Cambrian Explosion: Fast Evolution or Flood Layers of Buried Organisms? Naturalistic/Evolutionary Perspective

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Introduction:

The Cambrian Explosion is the supposed explosion of life in which only a few simple organisms immediately burst into a immense variety of more complex organisms. This was also a point in time when many organisms went extinct. The evidence and basis for this idea is that there are simpler fossils in the lower rock layers and in just a few layers above these there is a large variety of complex life forms fossilized in the higher Cambrian layers.

How could the theory of evolution explain such an impossibly fast transition of fossils in the fossil record? Could the organisms have evolved that fast? Was there more time that is not recorded between those rock layers? What could be the cause of so much change?

 

Naturalistic/Evolutionary Answer:

Over the 4.5 billion year history of the earth, the rock layers have been building up slowly, just a little bit at a time, due to seasonal flooding and ocean/lake sediments building up on the floor. As life slowly evolved on earth due to mutations and environmental stresses, small organisms evolved into bigger and more complex organisms. So as these organisms are trapped in the sediments, they are able to fossilize. Thus the fossils in the Precambrian rock should be smaller and less advanced.

Between 570-530 million years ago there was a extremely rapid change in many organisms, possibly encouraged by greater oxygen levels than ever before and/or the extinction event of many organisms, the newer organisms developed rapidly to fill the niches in the new environments. An ice age or “Snowball Earth” at this time may have caused the change of environments and been the mechanism for evolution.[i] Ozone was finally thick enough to start shielding the earth from harmful UV rays to allow for more evolution. With more underwater volcanism, more calcium would have been available in the oceans for organisms to develop and evolve their shells.[ii] It is debated, but some believe that the evolution of eyes and eyesight caused an explosion of evolution as predators and prey co-evolved.[iii]

This turnover in species was pushed by “an unprecedented period of evolutionary experimentation – and competition.”[iv] Once the new organisms settled into their environment, evolutionary changes were again small and minor in a more stable environment. These new organisms represent the ancestors of most modern day organisms.

cambrian-seaThis sudden “Cambrian Explosion,” seen as an example of “Punctuated Equilibrium,” means that the slow, steady process of evolution jumped due to radical changes in the environment that led to many drastic changes in the prior species’ evolution into new species.

“It’s important to remember that what we call “the fossil record” is only the available fossil record.”[v] More transitional fossils, or missing links, of the species in between would be expected to be found, although those transitional organisms may not have been buried under the right conditions and therefore may not have been preserved. If the transitional organisms were fossilized, they may have been eroded from the fossil record. So it is not necessarily unusual that there are jumps between grandfather to grandson species, simply because maybe Dad was not preserved.

Check back tomorrow for the Creation Answer.  Thanks again for your constructive help.

 

by Brian Mariani and others

 

Is the above correct? Do you evolutionists agree with this position? I have tried to write it as you believe it. Do you have any disagreements or concerns or additions?

 

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[i] Hoffman, P.F., Kaufman, A.J., Halverson, G.P., and Schrag, D.P. (28 August 1998). “A Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth” (abstract). Science 281 (5381): 1342–1346.

[ii] Novel Evolutionary Theory For The Explosion Of Life, October 27, 2009, Science Daily, http://www.sott.net/article/195681-Novel-Evolutionary-Theory-For-The-Explosion-Of-Life, accessed September 20, 2013.

[iii] McCall (2006). “The Vendian (Ediacaran) in the geological record: Enigmas in geology’s prelude to the Cambrian explosion”. Earth-Science Reviews 77: 1.

[iv] The Cambrian Explosion, 2001, PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/03/4/l_034_02.html, accessed September 20, 2013.

[v] The Cambrian Explosion, 2001, PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/03/4/l_034_02.html, accessed September 20, 2013.

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