What Were the First Animals Like? | The Institute for Creation Research

What Were the First Animals Like?

Are Ediacaran "fossils" actually remains of ancient living things, or did simple natural processes generate fossil look-alikes? Correctly identifying these tracks (or traces) matters significantly to those who insist these Ediacaran rocks—which secularists believe to be over 550 million years old—came from a time when Earth's earliest animal life first appeared. Are these scientists looking at fossils made by the supposed ancestor common to all animals?

The latest research reveals enough clues to discern a clear answer. And along the way, secular scientists encountered evidence that confirms special creation.

The curious fossil features in question bear the genus name Aspidella and often consist of concentric, circular or oval, disc-like shapes. Most are only a few inches in diameter. Three scientists examined the allegedly ancient fossils, which outcrop in Newfoundland and a few other places, and published their results in Geology.1

The Geology authors proposed a few natural mechanisms, including fluid pipes and collapsed sediments, that might have explained the formation of Aspidella. However, they could not replicate these Aspidella structures in laboratory experiments, a fact that indicates biological origins.

The researchers concluded that Aspidella traces look like animal tracks—specifically, tracks that today's sea anemones might have made.

One clue that sold the researchers on this hypothesis was the pattern of fossil trails showing where several Aspidella discs partly overlapped one another. The underwater animals left these trails as they were sliding sideways through mud in different directions. When the animals pushed slightly upward, they left telltale concentric rings.

Another clue came by comparing Aspidella tracks to sea anemone anatomy. They match.

Living anemones that inhabit marine mud flats hide most of themselves under a thin layer of sediment but leave a small, upward-pointed mouth exposed to the sea water above, poised to capture and ingest tiny prey. If a storm washes sediment over them, these anemones contract their short, pedestal-like, circular foot then work themselves upward to expose their hungry mouths again. That round foot can leave the same kinds of mud marks that made Ediacaran Aspidella fossils.2

But this implies, in the Geology authors' words, "characteristically animal behavior," including "the ability to respond rapidly to mild environmental stress induced by sedimentation" and movement "by muscular contraction."1

So, right from the start, animals had functioning nerves, muscles, and body shapes integrated with behaviors. In other words, they have always had everything they need to live, just as Genesis asserts.

The clues these scientists uncovered show that creatures still identifiable as living today very likely made the Ediacaran fossil traces. Which idea requires more faith: imagining that 560 million years of mutation and natural selection generated no changes to these mud-inhabiting anemones or understanding that God fully outfitted anemones right from the start?

What were the first animals like? They were like the ones we see today.

References

  1. Menon, L. R., D. McIlroy, and M. D. Brasier. 2013. Evidence for Cnidaria-like behavior in ca. 560 Ma Ediacaran Aspidella. Geology. 41(8): 895-898.
  2. Many Flood geologists generally regard Ediacaran strata, which typically have very few fossils, if any, as sediments deposited during the 1,656 or so years between creation and the Flood.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on September 16, 2013.

The Latest
NEWS
Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Next Week
Both amateur and professional stargazers have an opportunity to see a little more of God’s glory revealed in the heavens1 next week. The...

NEWS
Great American Outdoors Act, Signed into Law by President
In a bipartisan legislative achievement to promote better stewardship of American public lands, U.S. Senators and Representatives finalized their bill...

NEWS
Grandmothers, Eat Fish to Protect Your Brains!
This month the American Academy of Neurology published a medical science study showing that senior women can fight air pollution hazards, including brain...

NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...

ACTS & FACTS
'Doing Business' in Good Times and Bad
No doubt many of you, like me, have been earnestly looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He called all believers to be godly “salt”...

APOLOGETICS
Sentinels Are Needed in Perilous Times
Watch out! Dangers lurk everywhere—these are surely perilous times.1 One of the apologetics-exhorting themes in Jude’s epistle...