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The Cambrian Explosion Properly Explained

31 October 2012, 07:07

Folks thank it gits hot in Mississippi and them places, but they shore ain’t bin in Tennesse come August, when even th’ flies git lazy. They don’ even bother t’ buzz ya none, they jest sets on yore face an don’ hardly move. Settin’ down by th’ crick ain’t fer fishin’ no more, it’s jes’ to find a body some shade, an’ hope the ‘vaporation of th’ water gonna cool you off some.

Din’ seem t’ be workin fer Abner or Buford. They was sweatin’ and sufferin’ sumpin fierce!

Hiram come walkin’ along, still wearin’ shoes, cause his feet wus still city sof’, but he din thank he wus sumpin special, which wus real nice.

‘Mind if’n I set awhile?’ he said.

‘He’p y’se’f,’ said Abner, always takin’ the lead.

Hiram, he slid down along that there tree bole with a big ol’ sigh. ‘Man, it shore is hot!’

Abner looked at him fum under his hat brim. ’You ain’t whistlin’ Dixie!’

‘You boys feel like goin’ to git a drink?’

‘Moonshine?’ asked Abner.

‘Naw. I thought as how we’d mosey into town an’ get us some beers in th’ saloon.’

‘We ain’t got no money, Hiram,’ said Abner.

‘Don’ you worry none ‘bout thet; I’ll pay fer a coupla beers f’ you boys.’

They both got up mighty sprightly, like. ‘That’s mighty neighbourly of ya, Hiram. Real nice.’

Once they got out o’ the tree shade, it became so hot a body couldn’ breathe proper like, and they wus struggling manfully into town, and they shore wus happy t’ see the inside of that there saloon, all dark and cool, with hardly nobuddy inside.

They settled theirselves down with a coupla schooners a beer and had a good, long, swaller each. ‘Man! That there shore hits th’ spot!’ said Abner. ‘It’s kinda dark in here, but sorta cool as well, with them ceilin’ fans.’ They din’ say a lot more after that, jes sank theirselves two more schooners a beer, ‘fore Hiram piped up.

‘Y’know, Abner, I bin thankin’ ‘bout wut you tol’ Buford ‘bout the Cambrian ‘Splosion, an’ it ain’t zackly so.'

‘It ain’t? Why in tarnation would you say sumpin like that?’

‘See, the Cambrian 'Splosion waren’t  a real ‘splosion, like it would kill sumpin. Whut happened, wus them perfessor folks in the colleges, they got to lookin’ at evolution, and they seen slow growth all th’ way through, then suddenly, ‘bout 530 million years ago, wham! all these fossils came along got theirselves exoskeletons an’ proper skeletons. Before that, they wus all like meebas, now they wus developed with skeletons, but there wus so many o’ them, that they called it a ‘splosion.’

Buford looked at Abner real accusin’ like. ‘You done tol’ me that ‘splosion kilt the dinosaurs. I said it war th’ meetyer, an you gave me a cock ‘n bull story ‘bout the’ Cambrian ‘Splosion!’

‘Jes calm y’selves down, boys,’ said Hiram. ‘It don’ he’p nobuddy t’ git so hot under th’ collar fer nuthin’.’

‘So you sayin’ evolution’s true?’

‘Cain’t say as I agree wi’ them perfessors, cause they got them some people disagreein’.’

‘So it’s all a big fat lie?’

‘That ain’t zackly whut I’m sayin’,’ said Hiram. ‘Y’see, evolution din go noweheres ‘cept meebas and suchlike for millions a years, then suddenly, they wus ‘bout seven’y different species of phyla that appeared over a short period. Now that wus ‘bout three to five million years, which seems like a whole lick a time to us folks, but to evolution,’ he done clicked his fingers,’ it’s like that!’

‘So whut happened wus this: of the one hunnerd eighty two skeletal types, one hunnerd forty six popped up in that there period. That’s why they call it a ‘splosion, cause it happened so fast!’

‘I dunno, Hiram,’ said Buford. ‘Three million years seems like a whole passel o’ time t’ me!’

‘ It is!’ said Hiram, ‘But they wus  billions a years before that, that’s why they say it’s so short.’

‘I kin see that, yeah.’

‘So, whut these folks are sayin’ is, eighty percent a the whole passel a skeletal designs appeared in that short period. Now whut some people is sayin’, is that it couldn’t have jest happened so quick like. Whut they’re sayin, is that there wus a substantial increase in oxygen ‘bout six hundred million years ago, or that couldna happened.’

‘And these perfessors ain’t agreein?’

‘Not zackly. Whenever these perfessors cain’t ‘splain sumpin, they call it an uncomformity. Tha’s jest another way o’ sayin’ they don’ know. When different rock layers come t’gether when they don’t b’long t’gether, and these folks cain’t ‘splain it, they call it an unconformity.’

‘Y’see boys, evolution says changes in the environment don’t cause evolutionary changes. But this here Cambrian ‘Splosion jest shows that ain’t true. This perfessor, Richard Dawkins, says the Cambrian Strata are ‘bout six hunnerd million years old, and are the oldest in which we find most o’ the invertebrate groups. An’ then he says we find them in an advanced state o’ evolution, the first time they appear. Almost like they wus planted there, with no evolutionary history. He’s one o’ the top boys too, but he don’ believe in God, and he says folks as do is dumb.’

‘Whut kinda perfessor is he?’ asked Abner. This wus mighty fascinatin’ for him, whut with his book larnin’ an’ all.

‘He’s a biologist an’ ethologist, but mostly he jest hates God, and people whut believes in Him.’

‘Now why in tarnation would he wanta do a thang like that?’ asked Buford, eyes poppin again, though you couldn’ really see it so good, it bein’ dark an’all.

‘Anyways, this here feller, Richard Fortey, seen these here Olenids, which got the same sorta features as modern arthropods, an’ the complex interrelationship shore did surprise these here people. These here fossils got major anatomical changes, like modified mouthparts, gills, body surfaces an’ reproductive anatomy. Now they gotta have all a this to reproduce an’ survive in that there toxic environment.’

‘Now these here evolution perfessors, they say it gotta take an awful long time for this t’ happen, but it happened in a mighty short time, by their standards. Three to five million years kin seem like an awful long time to you an’ me, but to these fellers, it’s like the blink of an eye.’

‘Man Hiram, you shore are smart,’ said Abner, standin’ up, ‘But I gotta take a leak b’fore I make another kinda ‘splosion.’

1)      R.D.K Thomas, Rebecca M. Shearman and Graham W. Stewart: ‘Evolutionary Exploitation of Design Options by the First Animals with Hard Skeletons’ – Science 288 (2000): 1239-42

2)      Richard Cowen: ‘History of Life’ 3rd Edition (Malden, MA: Blackwell Science, 2000) 60-64

3)      Simon Conway Morris: ‘The Cambrian Explosion: Slow-fuse or Megatonnage?’ Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences USA 97 (2000) 4426-29

4)      Martin Kennedy et al: ‘Late Precambrian Oxygenation; Inception of the Clay Mineral Factory’ Science 311 (2006) 1446-49

5)      D.G.Shu et al ‘Lower Cambrian Vertebrates from South China’ Nature 402 (1999) 42-46

6)      Jun-Yuan Chen, Ki-Ying Huang and Chia-Wei Li ‘An early Cambrian Craniate-like Chordate’ Nature 402 (1999) 518-522

7)      Richard A. Kerr ‘Evolutions Big Bang gets even More Explosive’ Science 261 (1993) 1274-1275

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