A single cell organism that, when it moves, makes track lines identical to those found fossilized in precambrian strata suggests that the multi-cellular “Cambrian Explosion” really was quite the explosion indeed.
Discovery Channel News explains:
Until about 550 million years ago, there were very few animals leaving trails behind. Then, within ten million years an unprecedented blossoming of life swarmed across the planet, filling every niche with hard-bodied, complex creatures.
“It wasn’t a gradual development of complexity,” Matz said. “Instead these things suddenly seemed to burst out of a magic box.”
Charles Darwin first noticed the Cambrian Explosion and thought it was an artifact of a poorly preserved fossil record. The precambrian trace fossils were left by multicellular animals, he reasoned, so there must be some gap in fossils between the nearly empty Precambrian and the teeming world that quickly followed. But if the first traces were instead made by G. sphaerica, it would mean the Explosion was real; it must have been a diversification of life on a scale never before seen.
Long periods of boredom. Short periods of terror. Not exactly the six days of Genesis, but still pretty startling. Sounds like Gould’s punctuated equilibrium to me.
The more things change, the more things stay the same, don’t they? And there’s still lots of things that we do not know.
The horror and mystery of existence and life (like death, taxes, and the poor) are still with us.