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Did Sea Life Arise Twice?

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the shoulda-got-it-right-the-first-time dept.

Biotech 238

eldavojohn writes "Dr. Adam Maloof has found fossils of sea sponges in Australia from 650 million years ago. You might think this is no big deal unless you consider that sea sponges were thought to have arisen 520 million years ago. These fossils predate the oldest hard bodied fossils we have by a hundred million years. Dr. Maloof is now wondering if life might have arisen twice after the first attempt was quashed 635 million years ago: 'Since animals probably did not evolve twice, we are suddenly confronted with the question of how some relative of these reef-dwelling animals survived the Snowball Earth.' So how is it that life survived the Marinoan glaciation? The BBC has a video on the topic and Wikipedia has a time line of the Proterozoic Eon into the Paleozoic Era."

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Evolution finally refuted (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33288934)

You know how they say evolution would be falsified by a bunny in the pre-cambrian.

Well, it's not a bunny, but it's not in the stratum it's supposed to be.

Time to stop teaching the discredited theory of evolution.

Re:Evolution finally refuted (0, Troll)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33288960)

And now to find a dating method that is actually accurate.

Dating methods are accurate! (4, Informative)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 4 years ago | (#33289268)

Most dating methods that are used routinely are accurate; that is why they are used. Carbon 14 is typically NOT used for objects older than 45,000 years, when it becomes useless. For older objects, other methods are used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiocarbon_dating [wikipedia.org]

.

Re:Dating methods are accurate! (5, Interesting)

vtcodger (957785) | about 4 years ago | (#33290136)

***Most dating methods that are used routinely are accurate***

True, but unhelpful. Dating techniques useful for dating rocks deposited millions of years ago mostly depend on the use of "index fossils" (fossils that are widely distributed but change enough over time to pin a date down fairly closely.) Less commonly, radiometric dating can be used, but that requires that an event (typically volcanic) reset the atomic clocks in the rocks in question to zero. Since pouring lava over a fossil tends to destroy it, radiometrically dateable fossils aren't all that common. There are a few fossils found between lava flows or buried in volcanic ash that can be dated with fair precision. One especially important set is a collection of difficult to interpret fossils from 595Ma at Fortune Head Newfoundland.

Re:Dating methods are accurate! (2, Interesting)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33290272)

Unfortunately they aren't accurate. When you have a known decay rate for three different materials, after you calibrate for those differences in decay rate you should get the same answer between all three. Instead what you get is three wildly different numbers. How can you call that accurate?

Re:Evolution finally refuted (2, Funny)

DriedClexler (814907) | about 4 years ago | (#33289290)

My method of dating accurately is to have us both do a captcha that the other can see before we meet in person. Weeds out a lot of bots that way.

(Someone post the xkcd)

Re:Evolution finally refuted (3, Funny)

Reziac (43301) | about 4 years ago | (#33289472)

[looking around]

Speak for yourself. I think I'd rather date the bot!!

Re:Evolution finally refuted (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290658)

http://www.xkcd.com/632/

Re:Evolution finally refuted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289842)

And now to find a dating method that is actually accurate.

Have you tried eHarmony?

Re:Evolution finally refuted (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33290338)

Costs too much money (over $40/month)

Re:Evolution finally refuted (5, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | about 4 years ago | (#33290396)

Costs too much money (over $40/month)

Hate to continue this off topic thread here, but...

If you can't afford $40/month, you are not the kinda guy that the ladies on e-harmony are looking for.

Re:Evolution finally refuted (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33290478)

Probably not. c'est la vie.

And whether or not I can afford $40/month on eHarmony is beyond the point. The question is, would I be willing to pay that much even if I could afford it. The answer, surprisingly, is NO. I would not pay $120+/year ($40/month is a low ball figure) for a dating service.

Re:Evolution finally refuted (1)

emaname (1014225) | about 4 years ago | (#33289896)

And now to find a dating method that is actually accurate.

The last time I commented about the inconsistencies of current dating methods I was modded down as a troll.

But the dating inconsistencies remain. And I thank you for pointing that out.

Re:Evolution finally refuted (0, Redundant)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 4 years ago | (#33290434)

Yeah, because no one can surpass the dating accuracy of adding up the improbable ages of mythological characters taken from the multiple and contradicting genealogies in the Bible!

Re:Evolution finally refuted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290524)

And now to find a dating method that is actually accurate.

They probably used speed dating.

Re:Evolution finally refuted (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 4 years ago | (#33289142)

You know how they say evolution would be falsified by a bunny in the pre-cambrian.

Well, it's not a bunny, but it's not in the stratum it's supposed to be.

Time to stop teaching the discredited theory of evolution.

*stares blankly for a moment*

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Re:Evolution finally refuted (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33289448)

I do!!

Compared to most of the people on this planet - see GP - I'm a God and so are you!

Stay here with me, ruling over the stupid sheep as Gods!

Some are already doing it!

Extended warranty? Invented by one of us God people.

Variable and indexed annuities? - God People again!

Steve Jobs is probably the most famous and successful God person alive! Just look at His following!

Re:Evolution finally refuted (3, Informative)

golden age villain (1607173) | about 4 years ago | (#33289894)

Stay here, other planets are populated by evolving robots!

Re:Evolution finally refuted (5, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 4 years ago | (#33289338)

"All well and good, but just exactly when is intelligent life due to evolve"?

- Kevin Gilmer, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne England, 18/8/2010 14:48
Click to rate Rating 5

Re:Evolution finally refuted (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33289374)

You know how they say evolution would be falsified by a bunny in the pre-cambrian. Well, it's not a bunny, but it's not in the stratum it's supposed to be.

For making that comment, I'm gonna sic my pet Anomalocaris on you.
     

Re:Evolution finally refuted (4, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#33289960)

You know how they say evolution would be falsified by a bunny in the pre-cambrian.

Well, it's not a bunny, but it's not in the stratum it's supposed to be.

Time to stop teaching the discredited theory of evolution.

Not to mention that General Relativity and Quantum Relativity don't mix... obviously they are both wrong and we can quit teaching Newtonian physics in school too! I think we are really on to something. If we weed out all the nonsense being taught, we will have enough time in the day to bring back art class!

Re:Evolution finally refuted (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | about 4 years ago | (#33290750)

we can quit teaching Newtonian physics in school

I'm fairly certain you were being sarcastic in your post but relativity doesn't invalidate Newtonian physics. Newtonian physics is still correct, it's just less accurate than relativity and quantum mechanics.

Re:Evolution finally refuted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290034)

Yeah, because "Jeebus SEZ SO" is SOOOOO much more useful, amirite?

The missing link (0, Troll)

qoncept (599709) | about 4 years ago | (#33288938)

Re:The missing link (1, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33289080)

I... Get oversights and mistakes - and yes this be one - clearly the good doctor wants his work to get popular enough to go under enough scrutiny to find the mistakes.

However - I don't see what any of this has to do with God.

Re:The missing link (0, Offtopic)

qoncept (599709) | about 4 years ago | (#33289108)

I was being facetious. And would it kill them to give us syntax highlighting?

Re:The missing link (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33289354)

Haha - I totally meant to put "- and yes this could be one -"

Which makes it...

Well I want to say Ironic but then we'll spur that whole debate on whats Ironic and whats not.

Simple (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289870)

Satan made those fossils look even older so that we would have even more reason to doubt the truth of Scripture.

Don't know but... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33288954)

...because this is Slashdot this story will arise twice for sure. ;)

answer to the headline (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33288992)

I remember reading somewhere that "animals probably did not evolve twice." Can't remember where.

Life fills a space defined by its environment (4, Informative)

hessian (467078) | about 4 years ago | (#33289018)

Life creates itself to fit a niche, through a trial-and-error process called natural selection.

1. Does this mean life could arise twice, in similar form? Yes, and in fact there's evidence for parallel evolution:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225214757.htm [sciencedaily.com]

2. Does this mean that life on other planets arises identically or near-identically to our own, or that the origin of life on earth comes from elsewhere? Possibly:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia [wikipedia.org]

Basically, life adapting to similar conditions in different areas would have a similar "blueprint" although possibly different DNA reflecting a different route to that end.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289408)

The expression "life could arise twice" has a specific meaning (from scratch) so you should avoid using it for this. The title was careful enough to say "sea life" and your linked article talks about a fish adapting in different regions, not life arising twice from scratch.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33289538)

But scientists can usually tell different species. They may look superficially identical, but they have unique organs which indicate if it's the same species, or a different species that discovered the same niche.

I think the likely explanation here is that (1) it's the same species at ~500 and ~600 million years ago, and it did survive the extinction because (2) Snowball earth wasn't as harsh as we believe.... there were probably warm zones around the equator for a few sponges to hang-on.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289928)

But scientists can usually tell different species.

What do they tell them?

Oh, you meant discern.

Work on that 5th grade vocabulary or no one will take you seriously.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33290854)

[fix]

But scientists can usually tell different species [apart]. They may look superficially identical, but they have unique organs which indicate if it's the same species, or a different species that discovered the same niche.

Anonymous Coward wrote:
What do they tell them? Oh, you meant discern. Work on that 5th grade vocabulary or no one will take you seriously.

Work on getting a real userid. Also you seem a little uptight. Try shoving a plastic electronic device which vibrates up your sexual orifice until you reach the peak of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle, characterized by paroxisms of intense pleasure. You'll feel much better about the world, and not get so angry over trivial things like typos.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (5, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33289552)

OK, since I took the two seconds necessary to RTFA, the summary's title is wrong. TFA specifically says NOT that life evolved twice, but that the date the Earth was inhabited was pushed back.

If correct, the finding would mean that animal life existed before the Marinoan glaciation - a global catastrophe known as 'Snowball Earth' when the entire planet was covered in ice.

Previously it was believed that animal life first emerged after the Snowball Earth event around 635million years ago.
Dr Maloof told The Times: 'No one was expecting that we would find animals that lived before the [Snowball Earth] ice age.
'Since animals probably did not evolve twice, we are suddenly confronted with the question of how some relative of these reef-dwelling animals survived the Snowball Earth.'

Now I have to read your links, at least the first one. But as to the second,
Does this mean that life on other planets arises identically or near-identically to our own, or that the origin of life on earth comes from elsewhere?

There is no proof at all that life exists anywhere else except on earth. When and if we find life elsewhere, than we can make conjecture about panspermia, until then it's just science fiction. Not even junk science.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289980)

OK, since I took the two seconds necessary to RTFA, the summary's title is wrong. TFA specifically says NOT that life evolved twice, but that the date the Earth was inhabited was pushed back.

Where does the title say "evolved twice"?

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290178)

There is no proof at all that life exists anywhere else except on earth. When and if we find life elsewhere, than we can make conjecture about panspermia, until then it's just science fiction. Not even junk science.

The fact that life exists on Earth indicates that it most likely exists elsewhere, since the probability of life isn't equal to zero, and there are a ridiculous number of stars and planets.

Basically, the burden of proof is on you to say that life exists only on Earth. That scenario is so unlikely as to not even be funny.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290474)

That's 1 cut above "given money, trees and an infinite universe, somewhere money does grown on trees"

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 4 years ago | (#33290628)

That's 1 cut above "given money, trees and an infinite universe, somewhere money does grown on trees"

No because life does exist here. Money doesn't grow on trees.

If money did grow on trees here, then given money, trees, and an infinite universe, its probable that money grows on trees somewhere else too.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | about 4 years ago | (#33291032)

Plus as the late Mr. Adams postulated in his second book in the famous five-book trilogy, money can grow on trees, provided a culture adopts the leaf as its currency ;)

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | about 4 years ago | (#33290978)

No way! Whatever you think about the reasoning, saying 'The probability of life existing on a planet is greater than zero, therefore given enough planets the scenario of life existing on two of them becomes arbitrarily likely' is not in any way similar to saying 'if two classes of item exist, then given infinite space one class is capable of creating the other'. One lays out a premise and extrapolates from it, the other is just nuts.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290856)

The fact that life exists on Earth indicates that it most likely exists elsewhere, since the probability of life isn't equal to zero, and there are a ridiculous number of stars and planets.

Basically, the burden of proof is on you to say that life exists only on Earth. That scenario is so unlikely as to not even be funny.

Why does everyone assume that there has to be a default answer to the question, "does life exist on other planets?" As of now, we do not have sufficient proof to answer that question, so we cannot assume positively or negatively. Yes, the burden of proof is on the GP to claim that life only exists on Earth. That is because the burden of proof is on whomever attempts to answer the question as the default is undefined.

Nevermind that the existence of life on other planets is not a conclusion that the GP is trying to make. His premises are that we do not have proof of life and that making conjecture about a topic whose very existence relies on an unproven claim is not science. I agree with that assessment because science requires observation. With no proof of existence, there can be no observation. When we have found extraterrestrial life (which I believe will eventually happen, but belief in a highly probable event is not proof) then we can start analyzing it.

Oh, and to inject a little levity into the discussion... huh huh... panspermia... huh huh... Snowball Earth.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (2, Insightful)

tophermeyer (1573841) | about 4 years ago | (#33291008)

Give it some Heisenberg treatment. We cannot determine if life exists elsewhere, therefore for the purposes of meaningful scientific debate we have to act as if both possible realities are true. Anyone involved in that kind of discussion has to be equally ready for both possible outcomes.

We can't look to life on Earth as proof for or against life elsewhere.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about 4 years ago | (#33290462)

As I understand it a part of this is the assumption that animal life would be improbable to evolve twice. I always like to question assumptions - so let me take a different example and come back to the article shortly:
A very quick bit of research says that homo sapiens evolved from Homo rhodesiensis (common ancestor with Neanderthals). Now suppose I go back in time and kill off the first Homo Sapien that evolved, or at least exterminated any tribes that showed those leanings.
I would be astonished that in that situation provided rhodesiensis still survived and the environment remained relatively similar if Homo Sapiens didn't evolve again - that is, whatever evolutionary pressure pushed rhodesiensis into being more sapiens-like if it was still around should cause a similar evolutionary outcome.

Back to the original problem, whatever species animal life evolved from, provided it - or at least a sufficiently similar descendant - survived snowball earth, then why isn't it highly probable that once conditions returned that a similar creature could re-evolve in a similar manner.
Therefore the question then becomes not "How could this early animal survive snowball earth, and what does that mean" but any of "What was its progenitor like to be able to survive", or "Once plant lifeforms reach a certain stage is it almost certain that animals will evolve" etc

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (4, Insightful)

jakosc (649857) | about 4 years ago | (#33289564)

Despite the BBC article's title and the slashdot summary, this story is not about whether *life* evolved twice---it's about whether *animals* evolved twice. The issue here is that they have discovered relatively complex sponge-like organisms before a catastrophic event (snowball earth). This means either that 1) snowball earth wasn't that bad, didn't kill them off, and more complex animals (including us) might have evolved from them or 2) it killed them off, and animals evolved a second time once it was over.

No kidding. (1)

sean.peters (568334) | about 4 years ago | (#33290296)

From TFS:

Dr. Maloof is now wondering if life might have arisen twice after the first attempt was quashed 635 million years ago: 'Since animals probably did not evolve twice, we are suddenly confronted with the question of how some relative of these reef-dwelling animals survived the Snowball Earth.'

Doesn't sound like he's wondering to me - in fact, it sounds like he's pretty much ruled it out. WTF?

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33289658)

Does this mean life could arise twice, in similar form? Yes, and in fact there's evidence for parallel evolution:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225214757.htm [sciencedaily.com]

I just read your link, and nothing in it suggests paralell evolution. How did you come to that conclusion? It speaks of rapid evolution when saltwater fish are trapped in freshwater lakes, they are comparing the DNA of two closely related species that come from a common anscestor.

Nobody in any of the fields related to biology (paleontology, for example) think that life evolved twice. There is no indication that it did, let alone proof. TFA is interesting, TFS is garbage.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 4 years ago | (#33289808)

TFA is interesting, TFS is garbage.

Hey, they should add that as one of the loglines they use up top.

Slashdot: News for nerds. Stuff that matters.
Slashdot: It is what IT is.
Slashdot: TFA is interesting, TFS is garbage.

Re:Life fills a space defined by its environment (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | about 4 years ago | (#33289906)

I didn't read his link but the penguin and puffin are examples of parallel evolution. They both have similar colorings but aren't super closely related; the colorings are similar because both species evolved favoring the black/white/orange coloring due to their habitats.

Life (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289090)

This opens us to the theory that perhaps life evolved many times, considering the conditions we're viable (we are here now), it could've happened in many distinct, unrelated yet similar ways... Good find but not NEWs.

Re:Life (3, Insightful)

Boss Sauce (655550) | about 4 years ago | (#33289386)

For that matter, maybe life has and continues to spontaneously emerge on our warm, wet, densely living planet in different nooks and crannies but hasn't found the right conditions to start sprouting in other places at all... as far as we can tell... yet. With the "chemicals for life" and every imaginable condition spread across the universe, the suggestion that life spontaneously emerged on the Earth implies that the universe has sprouted life millions or billions of other times; in other words, that the universe itself "is alive."

Throw away the Snowball. (5, Interesting)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 4 years ago | (#33289128)

More likely, this is evidence that there never was a Snowball Earth. We've never been sure whether the entire Earth froze up or just large areas of it. If creatures lived through the glaciation, that's a good indication that unfrozen regions still existed.

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (0, Offtopic)

minogully (1855264) | about 4 years ago | (#33289190)

You can't do this... you'll be risking a galactic snowball fight!

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (4, Informative)

expatriot (903070) | about 4 years ago | (#33289254)

Don't trust Daily Mail interpretations of any thing scientific. Or non-scientific.

He was on the radio and said:

He did not consider dual evolution likely and would be surprised if anyone proposed it.

The dates were not certain, but they were much earlier than previously thought.

Earlier life existed, but only at single-cell level.

Heat was most likely provided by volcanic heating or hot water vents. (There are animals present now that have evolved to live in deep water near vents.)

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#33289548)

Don't trust Daily Mail interpretations of any thing scientific. Or non-scientific.

Yes. This. There is a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to be expected when a presumably scientific article is surrounded by such journalistic gems as "Brittany Murphy's mother 'shared bed with daughter's husband after her death'.

One's head asplodes, it does.

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#33289744)

Oh, and, attempting to stay on topic. "Snowball earth" likely did not cause all of the oceans to freeze solid. In fact, it is really unclear just how much glaciation actually occurred - other than the general statement of "a lot". It's not hard to imagine pockets of happy sponges in liquid water hanging around for millions of years (what else are sponges going to do anyway?).

According to the linked Wikipedia article, even the dating of the 'Cryogenian' period is pretty loose. People need to look at those solid lines separating geologic eras with a grain of salt or at least a Photoshop^HGimp gradient. It's not like God came down and said "OK it's now Cambrian time, lets pop out those hominids riding dinosaurs, and while your at it, lets change the color of the strata to mauve."

Right?

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (1)

wiredog (43288) | about 4 years ago | (#33290374)

what else are sponges going to do anyway?
I can think of a few things, involving 18 year old redheads, but that would be off-topic.

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (4, Informative)

vtcodger (957785) | about 4 years ago | (#33290576)

***Don't trust Daily Mail interpretations of any thing scientific. Or non-scientific.***

I think you've nailed it. The article appears to be horribly garbled. FWIW, the earliest bacterial fossils are 3.8 billion years old. Fossilized microbial mats are quite common back for hundreds of millions of years before the first animals appeared. Some complex fossils -- probably multicellular colonial assembleges (but maybe not 'animals') of one sort or another -- Chuaria, Tawuia, Grypania --go back a very long time. I think that the oldest previously well established animals are whatever created tracks thru the sediments of the fossil assemblege at Fortune Head Newfoundland 595 million years ago.

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289288)

More likely, this is evidence that there never was a Snowball Earth. We've never been sure whether the entire Earth froze up or just large areas of it. If creatures lived through the glaciation, that's a good indication that unfrozen regions still existed.

The other option is that there were areas where geothermal heat kept it from freezing. Early animal life may have even been based on geothermal heat. Sponges are pretty simple organisms and might have evolved like extremophile bacteria.

Re:Throw away the Snowball. (2, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#33289718)

Water could only have frozen on the surface + geothermal vents to keep the sponges alive.

Technology rocks! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289146)

Live survived on a frozen planet 600 million years ago and the BBC has a video. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

We're being tested (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289152)

The only creature you need to know about is a Jesusasaurus. ~

Re:We're being tested (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33289732)

Paper, Scissors, Meteor, you lose!

Is this thing on? (1)

NetNed (955141) | about 4 years ago | (#33289300)

Eat bad sea life and it will arise more then twice. Badoom tishhhhh!

Thank you, thank you.

Re:Is this thing on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289512)

Eat bad sea life and it will arise more then twice. Badoom tishhhhh!

I'd have suggested *rimshot* instead, just like *whipcrack* may be preferred over Wa-paaah!

i wouldn't worry about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289336)

it's probably just darwin testing the scientists faith in science.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289380)

It will never cross his mind, or many of your minds, that maybe the whole geological time scale is fraudulent. It was erected in 1830 and radiometric dating wasn't established until 1940. Not to mention radiometric dating is based on 3 assumptions, any one of which would dramatically destroy the dating method, and at least two of which are actually proven to be wrong.

In case of wiki-vandalism (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289398)

"Timeline of evolution" at 03:43, 16 August 2010 [wikipedia.org]

Note to Slashdot Editors: When used as references, Wikipedia links should be to a specific version of the article.

*At least* once... (5, Insightful)

jemenake (595948) | about 4 years ago | (#33289412)

When I discuss evolution-vs-creationism with some folks, the discussion sometimes steers toward the notion that the coming together of amino acids to form life is this *incredibly* improbable thing, and that it certainly needed the hand of a creator to ensure that it happened on a planet which could support it.

I then point out to them that *all* we know is that life has been created on this planet *at least* once. It may have happened a million times, for all we know. Out in that vast ocean, there are countless chances for it to happen every day and it very well *may* be happening. Who the hell knows? Any life that we may find out there in the oceans gets attributed to being descended from the *first* occurrence of life... but that might not really be the case.

So, this notion that life may have arisen twice? I don't find it shocking at all. Okay, I guess I'm a little piqued by the fact that researchers think that they hold *evidence* of it (since that's a little harder to do) but, like I said, I have a hunch this has happened millions of times since the "first time".

Re:*At least* once... (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33289680)

When I discuss evolution-vs-creationism with some folks, the discussion sometimes steers toward the notion that the coming together of amino acids to form life is this *incredibly* improbable thing...

One of the strangest Cr. arguments is that life never evolved from scratch in a sealed peanut butter jar. Despite being silly, it got me thinking: what would happen if it did? The person who discovered it would probably just toss it in the trash and nobody would ever know. It's not like everyone runs to the local science lab every time they find gray slime in a food product. Defective packaging is not uncommon.

If released, the "first batch" would probably be non-competitive with existing life anyhow such that present-day microbes would likely overtake it, hiding any clues that it would be new or different. Remember, the first batch of Earth life didn't have to be competitive, and thus could easily lack a lot of the fancier mechanisms and be quite simple. As the Precambrian Bill Gates once said, 640 molecules otta be enough for anyone.
     

Re:*At least* once... (1)

Pennidren (1211474) | about 4 years ago | (#33289728)

It's not like everyone runs to the local science lab every time they find gray slime in a food product.

Is this why I am banned from my local science lab? To be fair, most of the time my slime was green.

Re:*At least* once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290014)

When I discuss evolution-vs-creationism with some folks

Thats a terrible topic that should be avoided. Most people use that debate (aka: blind argument) to try and further their theological ideologies (both atheistic and theistic), yet neither one really proves nor disproves anything along those lines. Does evolution disprove a deity? Nope... God has all the time in the world (literally) to accomplish goals. Does young earth theory prove their must be a deity? Nope... It could simply state that natural selection can work faster than theorized.

So, if there's an emotionally charged debate about something that serves no purpose, then why bother? I cant think of any rational reason to.
   

Re:*At least* once... (2, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | about 4 years ago | (#33290294)

I have a hunch this has happened millions of times since the "first time".

That was my reaction as well. "Why only twice?" If the conditions existed for amino acids to develop and combine, the odds of cellular and multi-cellular life occurring only once would have to be very small indeed. It's a huge planet at the microbial level. Heck, life probably came to be over and over and over again, regardless of whether another pond a kilometer away was having the same thing occur in it.

Re:*At least* once... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290350)

There is conciderable evedence that all the life we know about is related. For example the direction that DNA curles should chemicly speeking be random, yet all known life has the same direction of curl. This implies a bias most easily explaind by all life having a common anscestor at some point. Whether or not life on Earth at one time formed in series and or parallel with several "first generation" life forms is an open question, but as yet there's lots of evedence in favor of the existance of a universal common anscestor for all known life and none against it.

Ok, let's back up (1)

sean.peters (568334) | about 4 years ago | (#33290450)

For one thing, even the (misleading) headline doesn't claim that life may have arisen twice. It asks the question whether sea life (in context, meaning multi-cellular sea-life such as sponges). And the headline and summary are, in fact misleading: the guy they're interviewing specifically says it's really unlikely sea animals evolved twice. Finally: read this article [wikipedia.org] . Among the interesting bits of data: based on genomic analysis, it's 10^2860 (not a typo) more likely that all extant life forms had a single ancestor than that there were multiple ancestors.

So: if life really did arise twice, be more shocked. 10^2860 is a really, really big number.

That does leave the possibility that life arose, died off, then started up again... but bear in mind, our single-celled ancestors showed up in the oceans almost as soon as the oceans condensed. There wasn't really a lot of time for another, completely independent system of life to start up and then die off. Nor is it very likely that independent life forms were created after "our" kind of life took off - particularly once the atmosphere and oceans became oxygenated, conditions became very unfavorable for the kinds of processes thought to be responsible for the earliest proto-life. O2 was damned deadly to EXISTING life - its appearance in the atmosphere is thought to have killed off a whole bunch of species that couldn't adapt.

Re:*At least* once... (1)

TheChrisCarroll (1867824) | about 4 years ago | (#33290568)

I then point out to them that *all* we know is that life has been created on this planet *at least* once. It may have happened a million times, for all we know.

No -- what we also know is that all life ever examined on earth shares the identical 'genetic code' and decoding machinery i.e. uses the same base pair "letters", the same "dictionary" to translation "letter" sequences into amino acids, the same plan of DNA being a double helix which is split and transcribed by complex moving parts that build proteins by 'reading' that DNA So a typical argument for "life only evolved once" is: 1) All life on earth shares this identical code and transcription-and-assembly machinery 2) This is either (a) a remarkable co-incidence (b) proof of intelligent design (c) because all life on earth is in fact related by genetic descent from one common ancestor that had it or (d) there is some as-yet-undiscovered Reason for it. The usual preferred option is (c)

Title a bit off (4, Informative)

esocid (946821) | about 4 years ago | (#33289492)

It doesn't speculate that two similar life forms evolved twice. It only asks a question of how they survived glaciation. The molecular evidence pointed to an earlier evolutionary divergence for sponges, but no fossils were found until now.

The oldest known fossils of hard-bodied animals were two sea-dwelling organisms which lived around 550million years ago, called Namacalathus and Cloudina. But DNA evidence from sponges has suggested that their origins predate this. Marc Laflamme, of Yale University, said the earliest known sponge fossils were about 555million years old. He said: 'We had chemical and molecular evidence of fossils at this time but we weren't finding any real fossil specimens. 'What Adam's group was able to find was first evidence of true fossils of sponges at this time.'

By law of parsimony, the most likely explanation is that sponges arose once, and survived. While it isn't impossible that two similar organisms evolved from the same organism to fill a niche, it is tough to show evidence that two identically structured organisms arose twice, at different times. Most often when this happens, it happens at relatively close time intervals in physically separated areas, with simple changes. Seeing evidence to the contrary would be amazing, but in molecular evolution and probabilistic modeling, the more assumptions you make, the less robust the results will be, and so far all we have is/are fossils with identical structures.

First link is trash (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#33289498)

First link is to a trash tabloid-ish site per the ads I saw. Not exactly peer reviewed science.

All the squealing is oriented around the assumption that the date they calculated is correct, and then wanders into wild speculation.

However, the cruddy first link carefully avoided any discussion of screwing up the dating.

Its very easy to improperly date a rock. For example, you can properly calculate the date of individual sand grains. But, its a really bad idea to assume the age of the sand grains equals the age of a sandstone later made out of that sand.

Another example, lets say I take a dump on the top of Rib Mountain, a quartzite xenolith in my area (sort of). Now its possible to figure out the "birthdate" of rib mountain, around one billion years, and the surrounding sedimentary rocks were worn away about half a billion years ago. Does my coprolite indicate human habitation one billion years ago, half a billion years ago, or last month? I suppose for a website with all the class of weekly world news, the story would be human habitation one billion years ago. But, although I have a low slashdot UID, I'm not that old (yet).

Re:First link is trash (4, Informative)

esocid (946821) | about 4 years ago | (#33289752)

Here's a link to the original article, published yesterday. It's subscription based, which is why the OP didn't link to it. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo934.html [nature.com] Maloof, A.C. et al. 2010. Possible animal-body fossils in pre-Marinoan limestones from South Australia. Nature Geoscience. Published online.

Abstract:

The Neoproterozoic era was punctuated by the Sturtian (about 710 million years ago) and Marinoan (about 635million years ago) intervals of glaciation. In South Australia, the rocks left behind by the glaciations are separated by a succession of limestones and shales, which were deposited at tropical latitudes. Here we describe millimetre- to centimetre-scale fossils from the Trezona Formation, which pre-dates the Marinoan glaciation. These weakly calcified fossils occur as anvil, wishbone, ring and perforated slab shapes and are contained within stromatolitic limestones. The Trezona Formation fossils pre-date the oldest known calcified fossils of this size by 90million years, and cannot be separated from the surrounding calcite matrix or imaged by traditional X-ray-based tomographic scanning methods. Instead, we have traced cross-sections of individual fossils by serially grinding and scanning each sample at a resolution of 50.8m. From these images we constructed three-dimensional digital models of the fossils. Our reconstructions show a population of ellipsoidal organisms without symmetry and with a network of interior canals that lead to circular apertures on the fossil surface. We suggest that several characteristics of these reef-dwelling fossils are best explained if the fossils are identified as sponge-grade metazoans.

It was peer reviewed, so I would suspect that their methods weren't trash.

Success (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289686)

Ever notice how the word success sounds a lot like sucks sex?

Saddest Part (3, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 years ago | (#33289724)

The saddest part of this story? No, not the tabloid link that gets vast parts of the story wrong. No, the saddest part is, thanks to a new obsession of my kids, I can't read this story about prehistoric sea sponges without singing "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea!"

Re:Saddest Part (2, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33290342)

Who died in an oil spill because of BP?

Dereks Discourse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33289772)

Good day... :)

I mentioned your blog on my blog, just wanted to give you a heads up.

Here is a direct link to the post...
http://www.dereksdiscourse.com/2010/08/around-web-in-80-days-blogs.html

Keep up the good work

-derek-

Life 2.0 (1)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | about 4 years ago | (#33289814)

So we could already be up to Life 2.0 ? I thought it seemed shiny and bright but with some underlying feeling of pointlessness ! ;)

Sea sponges? No... (1)

e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) | about 4 years ago | (#33289862)

retarded fish frogs!

How did they survive? (2, Informative)

Burnhard (1031106) | about 4 years ago | (#33289972)

'Since animals probably did not evolve twice, we are suddenly confronted with the question of how some relative of these reef-dwelling animals survived the Snowball Earth.'

Forgive my trolling, but Dr. Maloof is an idiot. There are things called hydrothermal vents that certain species of sponge live around. So unless he thinks "Snowball Earth" involved the complete freezing of the oceans and, indeed, all other bodies of water, a hypothesis can easily be constructed to answer his question.

I think you're being a little hard on the guy (4, Insightful)

sean.peters (568334) | about 4 years ago | (#33290570)

Ok, it seems there are two possibilities here: it could be that being "confronted by the question of how they survived" is a rhetorical device leading up to just such a hypothesis, even if they didn't publish it in the article. Or maybe you're just a lot smarter than the "idiot" (who's a paleontology PhD) quoted here. Which do you think is more likely?

Bad Science (0, Troll)

mpapet (761907) | about 4 years ago | (#33289996)

The bible doesn't mention sea sponges so it didn't happen. Maybe they washed pet dinosaurs with the sponges? That would be biblically correct science.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

Re:Bad Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290736)

The bible doesn't mention sea sponges so it didn't happen. Maybe they washed pet dinosaurs with the sponges? That would be biblically correct science.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

Until a T-Rex skeleton is found with a pine tree air freshener around it's neck your dino car wash theory will have to remain a theory. We deal in facts on Slashdot.

Re:Bad Science (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | about 4 years ago | (#33291036)

We deal in facts on Slashdot.

Since when?!?!

Impressive work from a very young scientist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290100)

As a colleague of Adam Maloof's, I just want to point out the most impressive thing about this story. Adam isn't some old tweed-jacketed Princeton dude with a salt-and-pepper beard: he's just a few years out of grad school, and is in his early 30's.

Kinda puts your own life accomplishments in perspective, doesn't it?

Blame the Hoff (0, Offtopic)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 4 years ago | (#33290198)

The sponges came ashore, but Hasselhoff put 'em back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jNTnBTKiQk [youtube.com]

He's sorta like Chuck Norris, without the roundhouse kick.

.

This is worse than Piltdown Man (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33290308)

Sea Sponges "evolved" approx. 5000 years ago, along with the rest of the universe.

Taco's reading comprehension is non-existent (1)

MrVictor (872700) | about 4 years ago | (#33290390)

The title of the article is:

Discovery of ancient sea sponge fossils could push back existence of animal life on Earth by 90million years

Taco writes:

Did Sea Life Arise Twice?

Holy Crap.

We all know about the scientific method. (4, Funny)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 4 years ago | (#33290718)

The scientific method requires a known control. For carbon dating, there is external evidence that you can use to judge the accuracy of it (historical records) but for other dating methods, where is the known control? Don't feed me circular logic crap about the state of gases in strata beside fossils of a "known" age because that is a feedback loop. I was not born yesterday.

Not only have some of these gas based dating methods been thrown into question by the realization that cosmic radiation can speed up the radioactive decay of those gases but we do not have any way to verify the decay rate unaffected by cosmic radiation using the classic scientific method. There is no control old enough. We also do not know what concentration of those gases were when they were trapped in the rock let alone what they were even a couple hundred years ago.

Even if the scale of the rate of decay was accurate, there is no way to know what the started state was when it was trapped, whether that gas was trapped long before that strata formed and whether cosmic radiation has sped up the decay since it was deposited in the strata.

In a nutshell, you do not know for certain if a particular strata is 3000 or 90 million years old.

regardless (1)

AnAdventurer (1548515) | about 4 years ago | (#33290812)

It's theorized that microbes living in hidy-holes deep in the crust of this rock survive in the worst terrestrial conditions. That's the short version.

Re:regardless (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | about 4 years ago | (#33290904)

It would be interesting if life evolved before the moon was formed by that collision of the mars like planet and the early earth by hiding out there. It could have survived because it stayed in the nice warm chemical rich layers of the mantle.

Regarding bats (1)

ultramk (470198) | about 4 years ago | (#33290974)

As many others in this thread have noted, the summary completely misrepresents the content of the article.

Regardless, there are many very interesting examples of parallel evolution. Startling to me was finding out that fruit bats and insectivorous bats are very much unrelated... meaning that true flight evolved at least twice in mammals. Pterosaurs and true birds, the same thing. What a wondrous universe we live in.

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