Sponges on ancient ocean floors 100 million years before Cambrian period

Researchers have found the oldest clue yet of animal life, dating back at least 100 million years before the famous Cambrian explosion of animal fossils.

1 Like

You’ve been finding all these pre-Cambrian animals I’ve never heard of before. Thanks!

1 Like

The biomarker they identified, a steroid compound named 26-methylstigmastane (26-mes), has a unique structure that is currently only known to be synthesized by certain species of modern sponges called demosponges.

@Agauger want to have a freely wager on how long before ENV has a “no it wasn’t” article on this discovery? I’ll say one week? Do you take under or over?

1 Like

@Patrick, leave her alone. No taunting, and certainly not with the history you two have.


I wasn’t taunting. Okay maybe a little bit. :sunglasses: @Agauger if you think this is taunting, please ignore. I’ll just wait for ENV to cover it and post it here.

I don’t think the DI will care since they already grant sponges in the Precambrian.


If they don’t deny the find they’ll most certainly claim it as further evidence for ID. Bank on it.

It’s unwise to wager with the person who might write the article. :grinning: Yeah, sponges were probably the earliest multicellular animal around. As far as I know, the 26-mes is not necessarily a marker for multicellularity. Demisponges make it now, and are the only ones who make it, but the rest is extrapolation.
This does show that something made 26-mes and the most likely candidate is an ancestor to demisponges. But pushing the date earlier solves no problems for evolution; it doesn’t solve the problem of the origin of animal form or of multicellular life. It merely pushes it earlier.

If we make the stakes low enough, I might help you write the rebuttal as I had already guessed at what it was going to say as you just said what I guessed it would say.

Yes, 26-mes is not necessarily a marker for multicellularity. But it is a marker for a multicellular animal. When combined with previous 24-mes results, it does point to a sponge like animal 100 million years before Cambrian.

Also we just recently talked about fat from an pre-Cambrian animal. Please take a look at that.

@Agauger I’m not sure there was ever a problem, at least not as I understand it.

Rather, there was an argument against evolution from the Cambrian explosion. This sort of data undermines the premises of that argument. We were never convinced of the argument in the first place, but this unravels it even more, suggesting it is not even correct on some basic facts.


I’m curious to see how the DI spins this since they spent the last 2 years pushing Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt” claim the Designer didn’t come by until the Cambrian. They already ignore all the life for the 3 billion years before the Cambrian.

1 Like

@Timothy_Horton and @swamidass

If the argument really was that nothing happened until the Cambrian then the argument was wrong. But that’s not the argument. We already knew about Ediacaran fauna and traces suggesting sponges and cnidarians were among the first animals to appear, prior to the Cambrian. The argument was that there an explosion of animal diversity over 10-20 myr during the Cambrian.
So many diverse forms, many of them with no apparent precursors, appeared so quickly. That’s why it’s called an explosion. Did information precede the explosion? Well, it had to come from somewhere somewhen. Pushing the information for sponges earlier doesn’t help. In fact, if we were to find a precursor for every phylum in the Ediacaran or before, it still wouldn’t explain where all the information necessary to build an animal came from.

This is why I’m so troubled by some ID argumentation. I feel like if that was answered an ID proponent would just say that just pushes it further back. Then it would be answered. Then say it just pushes it further back. And this would go on until the origin of the universe. That just isn’t appealing. I think the Cambrian argument is dead. But as far as the information arguments i don’t know. I’m not informed enough about that to have an opinion.


:blush: what a good guess! Pretty soon all we’ll have to do is say, “Assertion #1.” “ Rebuttal #1.” “Counterargument #3.” “Riposte #4.” I’ll see your #4 and raise you assertion #20!!! And then the shouting starts. :roll_eyes:


Why did it take your Omnipotent Designer 10-20 million years to come up a few dozen body plans? Where did all the information for the 3 billion years of life before the Cambrian come from? Where did all the information required for the re-radiation of life after the 5 known mass extinctions after the Cambrian come from? BTW 10-20 million years isn’t “quickly”.

Science says the information in genomes comes from the new genetic variations which happen every generation interacting with feedback from the local environment. Meyer says it was POOFED by the Magic Designer. Sorry but Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt” hand wave is the worst kind of unsupported pseudo-science. That’s why he makes his claim in popular press layman’s books instead of the primary scientific literature.

Meyer isn’t a paleontologist and has no formal training or experience in the subject. His book Darwin’s Doubt was rightly ridiculed by actual paleontologists as the incredibly sloppy and factually incorrect work of an incompetent amateur. One of the best critiques of Meyer’s incompetence came from paleontologist Donald Prothro

Read the rest of the scathing review with many detailed examples of Meyer’s blunders here.

Stephen Meyer’s Fumbling Bumbling Cambrian Amateur Follies


What is your scientific specialty? I ask this not to be snobby but to get a feel for how much you know about how much information it takes to assemble new radically different body plans. I can’t think of an analogy that is diverse enough to illustrate the challenge.

The omnipotent designer, as you called him, could have poofed everything into being but chose not to. I can give you my guess why, but it’s not scientific. But whatever happened during those 3 billion years, it didn’t happen without guidance. Assembling gene regulatory networks that actually build something coherent and resilient and functional AND unique multiple times is not going to happen by a random search sifted by selection. There isn’t enough time or selective power. 10-20 myr is peanuts compared to 3 billion years. Chimps and humans diverged 6 mya, rats and mice diverged 20 Mya. Yet we have echinoderms, crustaceans, various worms, priapulids, brachiopods, mollusks, even a primitive chordate in 10-20 myr time. ( I am speaking from memory here, I left out Ctenophora and Cnidaria and Porifera deliberately because they predate the Cambrian.) I am talking about fossil traces, not dates based phylogenetic analysis, which puts their origin earlier, but that is not backed up by fossil evidence.

BTW I doubt Meyer said things poofed into existence anywhere in his book.

I know you don’t like ID. I don’t know who you have encountered before who advocated ID. But not all advocates are the same. We do have rational scientific reasons for what we say. We do research (some of us) and publish papers.
We read the literature. And we publish popular press books, some of us. But then we are not the first to advocate a theory by publishing a popular book… And we are not the first to have a journal to support our work. There is Darwin, for example, and the journal Nature. From Wikipedia:

Janet Browne has proposed that “far more than any other science journal of the period, Nature was conceived, born, and raised to serve polemic purpose.” Many of the early editions of Nature consisted of articles written by members of a group that called itself the [X Club] Janet Browne has proposed that “far more than any other science journal of the period, Nature was conceived, born, and raised to serve polemic purpose.”[[13]] Many of the early editions of Nature consisted of articles written by members of a group that called itself the [X Club], a group of scientists known for having liberal, progressive, and somewhat controversial scientific beliefs relative to the time period.[[13]] Initiated by [Thomas Henry Huxley], the group consisted of such important scientists as Joseph Dalton Hooker, Herbert Spencer, and John Tyndall, along with another five scientists and mathematicians; these scientists were all avid supporters of Darwin’s theory of evolution as common descent, a theory which, during the latter half of the 19th century, received a great deal of criticism among more conservative groups of scientists.[15] Perhaps it was in part its scientific liberality that made Nature a longer-lasting success than its predecessors), a group of scientists known for having liberal, progressive, and somewhat controversial scientific beliefs relative to the time period.[13]

1 Like


Isnt this where PeacefulScience adheres to God as the source? Only atheists would reject this solution.

Frankly, Ann, I don’t believe you know the answer to this. Moreover, I don’t believe the grand pronouncements made by ID proponents in this regard carry any weight at all.

The opposite end of the “vast, unimaginable amounts of new information” spectrum can be illustrated with a simple thought experiment. Thus, ask yourself - if each and every cell (1 trillion or cell) in the human body was specified by a unique combination of transcription factors, then how many such factors would we need? A thousand? Ten thousand? Millions?

No. The answer is 40. It follows pretty simply that the combinatorial possibilities resident in the thousands of genes percolating in the biosphere at the time of origination of animals are far more than sufficient to permit new avenues in evolution. To be sure, new combinations, new interactions, new networks are needed, but no new genes. (In principle, that is.)

You want to claim that untold amounts of new information were needed at the dawn of multicellular life? Then prove it. Experimentally, not with reference to inappropriate and incorrect “calculations” that have nothing to do with biology or biochemistry.


Now that I am have re-engaged into my Information Theory understanding that I got from Claude Shannon himself, I am ready to take you on (or anyone else) on your information arguments. The information arguments in ID are really lacking in sound Information Theory foundation as @swamidass and I found out conversing with @EricMH