Recently Discovered Fossils Push Back Date of First Multicellular Life on Earth by 1.5 Billion Years

Paleontologists recently found fossils in Africa that indicate that multicellular life evolved on Earth 1.5 billion years before previously thought:

"The cursor on the origin of complex multicellular life is no longer 600 million years ago, as has long been maintained, but more like 2.1 billion years," said Abderrazak El Albani, a researcher at the University of Poitiers and lead author of the study.

The findings were published in the British journal Nature.

Up to now, conventional scientific wisdom held that the planet was populated only by single-celled microbes until the so-called Cambrian explosion, a major surge of biodiversity that began some 600 million years ago.


Link via The Presurfer | Photo: CNRS

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@Charles - You are right that nothing about the concept of evolution is undermined by this new discovery. What IS undermined is the belief many people held last week about the timetable of multicellular life. If you were one of those people, having had your belief undermined, do you find yourself feeling more agnostic toward the new view? Or do you, at each new discovery, find yourself eventually embracing the new view with as much conviction (or even more, after all, our knowledge is growing) as the undermined one? I understand that critical agnosticism is built into the rap we know about a scientific understanding of the world, and we all know how to talk about the tentativeness of scientific truth claims, but my experience is that in spite of this lip-service few people actually allow this tentativeness to solidify into a tempered, critical agnosticism. Instead the contemporary ontology is wielded as an index for the other fellow's intelligence. In other words, agnosticism is reduced to the senile claim that "I admit I might be wrong, but in the meantime take THAT you unconvinced mooncalf!"

On the other hand, if you yourself are a scientist at the frontiers of the relevant research, then none of my questions apply. You are in an entirely different social-epistemological space. My experience with scientists are that none of them are half as cocksure of anything as their self-appointed lay defenders are of everything.

I ask you this because I agree with your post. You seem thoughtful and articulate. I'm not targeting you. In fact I'd like to hear from JohnAD and BJN as well.

All the best.
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Pretty cool stuff. :) But new information is never going to undermine anti-evolutionary arguments, because they aren't arguments at all. (Does this really need to be said? Never mind... yes it does...) Just go and read this article about the non-overlapping magisteria of science and religion:
http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_noma.html
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@devnet
Its religion that is set in stone (or paper). The nice thing about science is that as we find more factual evidence our bigger picture changes and (heh) evolves.
Yay for science! :D

So how bout that magic apple and the snake...
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@devnet huh? Nothing about this in any way undermines the concept of evolution, nor does it challenge the accuracy of any previously dated fossils. It just provides another data point to help us understand how long certain evolutionary changes took to occur. If anything, it undermines the anti-evolutionary argument that complains about the Cambrian explosion as being too quick.
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Agree with JohnAD. No bio science suggests that life jumped from single cells to the complex Cambrian creatures without intermediate forms.
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