Darwin’s dilemma resolved: Biologists measure evolution’s Big Bang

Share via AddThis
Posted on September 13, 2013
A new study led by Adelaide researchers has estimated, for the first time, the rates of evolution during the “Cambrian explosion” when most modern animal groups appeared between 540 and 520 million years ago.
Biologists measure evolution's Big Bang

This image depicts marine life during the Cambrian explosion (~520 million years ago). A giant Anomalocaris investigates a trilobite, while Opabinia looks on from the right, and the “walking cactus” Diania crawls underneath. All these creatures are related to living arthropods (creatures with exoskeletons and jointed appendages, such as insects, arachnids and crustaceans). Credit: Katrina Kenny & Nobumichi Tamura

The findings, published online today in the journal Current Biology, resolve “Darwin’s dilemma”: the sudden appearance of a plethora of modern animal groups in the fossil record during the early Cambrian period.

“The abrupt appearance of dozens of animal groups during this time is arguably the most important evolutionary event after the origin of life,” says lead author Associate Professor Michael Lee of the University of Adelaide’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the South Australian Museum.

“These seemingly impossibly fast rates of evolution implied by this Cambrian explosion have long been exploited by opponents of evolution. Darwin himself famously considered that this was at odds with the normal evolutionary processes.

“However, because of the notorious imperfection of the ancient fossil record, no-one has been able to accurately measure rates of evolution during this critical interval, often called evolution’s Big Bang.

 

Read more at: Phys.org



39,066 science & technology articles

Categories

Our Articles (see all)

General News

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   StumbleUpon   Plurk
Google+   Tumblr   Delicious   RSS   Newsletter via Email

Featured Video (see all)


Sunglasses on demand
Apart from their style, sunglasses have changed very little in the last few decades. Photochromic lenses that change…

Featured Image (see all)


Solar Eclipse From the International Space Station
Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti took a series of photographs of the March 20, 2015 solar eclipse…