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Earth Science

Did Land-Dwellers Emerge 65 Million Years Earlier Than Was Thought? 41

ananyo writes "A controversial paper published in Nature argues that enigmatic fossils regarded as ancient sea creatures were actually land-dwelling lichen. If true, that would suggest life on land began 65 million years earlier than researchers now estimate. The nature of fossils from the Ediacaran period, some 635 million–542 million years ago, has been fiercely debated by palaeontologists. But where others envisage Ediacaran sea beds crawling with archaic animals, Gregory Retallack, a geologist at the University of Oregon in Eugene, sees these sites in southern Australia as dry, terrestrial landscapes dotted with lichens. He proposes that rock in the Ediacara Member in South Australia — where palaeontologist Reginald Sprigg first discovered Ediacaran fossils in 1947 — represents ancient soils, and presents new geological data. Among other lines of evidence, Retallack argues that the rock's red colour and weathering pattern indicate that the deposits were formed in terrestrial — not marine — environments (abstract). Others strongly disagree."
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Did Land-Dwellers Emerge 65 Million Years Earlier Than Was Thought?

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  • Okay Slashdot! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @06:50PM (#42281291) Journal

    Look I understand this is a news aggregator not an originator, but its still a website it should be a little ahead of the MSM. Whats the deal with the apparent pattern of posting whatever they talked about on NPR's all things considered the previous day?

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @08:09PM (#42282325)

    Remember this next time a creationist or global warming denier claims that scientists can't get published if they don't adhere to the party line.

  • by gewalker ( 57809 ) <Gary.Walker@Astr ... inus threevowels> on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:21PM (#42283017)

    There is a significant difference between an article that leaves the basis premise alone but changes some of the details compared to an article that attacks the core of the theory.

    Even in the recent case where someone suggested that the speed of light was slightly exceeded by neutrinos the results were broadly assumed to be experimental error because the theory of special relativity is widely considered proven fact. Perhaps a small refinement to SR would accommodate FTL neutrinos -- this would not necessarily destroy the basic theory. Einstein did not destroy Newton, he improved the model.

    If I invented a time machine and go back in time to interview Adam & Eve it would be very difficult for a science journal to accept this evidence as scientific because it violates the very concept of scientific study -- natural causes are always assumed as anything else is not science (this assumption is reasonable). Short of time travel, I would say it is impossible for any theory to replace modern evolutionary theory unless it also has a naturalistic explanation. If I found a complete set of mammal fossils in pre-Cambrian rock it would be publishable in Nature, etc. but this does not mean that most evolutionists would suddenly embrace special creation. Evolutionists would simply modify their their to accommodate new data -- they have modified it a number of times in the past to accommodate new data.

    In the case of global warming the full-blown time-to-panic theory is not well established as a scientific fact, so it is relatively easy to publish against that oppose this -- if you attempt to say that there is no anthropogenic global warning due to industrial greenhouse gases you will find it much more difficult to get it published -- this is how science works.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.