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Canada Science

Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the long-term-storage dept.
jfbilodeau sends word of a massive new trove of fossils located in Canada, which scientists say will rival the acclaimed Burgess Shale fossil bed. The rock formation inside which both fossil sites were found is roughly 505 million years old (abstract). The fossils provide insight into the Cambrian explosion, a time that brought the rapid appearance and diversification of many animal forms. "In just two weeks, the research team collected more than 3,000 fossils representing 55 species. Fifteen of these species are new to science." Paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron said, "The rate at which we are finding animals — many of which are new — is astonishing, and there is a high possibility that we'll eventually find more species here than at the original Yoho National Park site, and potentially more than from anywhere else in the world." The fossils at the new site are about 100,000 years younger and are better preserved than those at the renowned Burgess shale site.
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Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:29PM (#46221523) Journal
    Cambrian explosion is one of the most misunderstood terms, sometimes very willfully misrepresented. The "explosion" unfloded over a minimum of 10 million years, but more likely estimate is between 20 and 50 million years. For a species that has been in existence for less than 0.1 million years, belonging to a genus existing for less than 3 million years calling this an "explosion" is incomprehensible. Tool usage is less than 2 million years old. Fire has been tamed for 0.5 million years. Language is probably 0.075 million years old. Domestication of animals is 0.015 million years old. Plants> 0.01 million years, writing is 0.005 million years old. Metallurgy is 0.004 million years old at most. Now try to imagine how long 10 million years was.

    All that happened was the emergence of bones/shells. This was the first thing that could fossilize. Everything earlier had just soft tissues and they did not fossilize well. So there was an "explosion" of fossilization, not necessarily speciation.

  • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:50PM (#46221795)

    TFA goes into exactly that aspect. Apparently they found species at this site that are also present in a 10 million years older site in China, so unless these critters had access to time travel they could not exactly have been evolving at an explosive rate.

  • Re:It's the devil (Score:5, Informative)

    by QRDeNameland (873957) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @05:37PM (#46222433)

    Most Christians believe in evolution. Even the fundamentalist ones.

    Those statements are questionable without some significant disclaimers. Are you taking about worldwide or just the US? What qualifies as 'Christian' 'fundmentalist' or 'believing in evolution'?

    Consider the latest highly publicized Pew Research poll [reuters.com] on the subject. One-third of Americans believe "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time". Note that's not disagreeing with the theory of natural selection or postulating 'God's hand', this is utter denial that species evolved over extremely long periods of time. For those that identify as white evangelical Protestants (a good surrogate for 'fundamentalist', I'd say) , that number is 64 percent. Also, FWIW, only 43 percent of Republicans agree that "humans and other living things have evolved over time".

    So at least in the US, it would appear that most 'fundamentalists' (and Republicans) *do* reject the evolution of species outright. And while I can't say that third of *all* Americans that would represent a majority of Christians, it is safe to assume that those people would overwhelmingly skew Christian, and therefore if most Christians *do* believe in evolution, it's a slim (and apparantly shrinking) majority, at least in the US.

    Clearly, deniers of evolution are not just a fringe minority with a loud voice, these beliefs are frighteningly mainstream.

  • Re:It's the devil (Score:5, Informative)

    by QRDeNameland (873957) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @06:31PM (#46222931)

    How one asks the poll questions is important.

    Read the link from the previous post. Respondents had two choices: "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time" or "humans and other living things have evolved over time". That's about as binary a choice as is possible on the subject, and the former choice pretty well defines 'creationist', that is, that one rejects all evidence of the evolution of species.

    These results are pretty much in line with all other polls I've seen over the last 25 years. Do you have any contrary evidence to show that these numbers are massively overstated? Otherwise your clutching at straws to dismiss such data as just something to validate a deeply held hope that there are many "dumb people" out there (I, for one, find no hope at all in the idea) strikes me as a mere rationalization to deny that it could actually be true.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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