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DEATH VALLEY JELLYFISH FOSSILS
sandstone in Death Valley, California—one of the hottest places on Earth.
The fossils, ‘dated’ at 540 million years on the geological timescale, are
said to be the oldest record of a “stranding event”, because marks in the rock
around the jellyfish suggest currents distorted the bodies before they were
fossilized. Jellyfish fossils have also been found elsewhere including Western
Australia ( creation.com/fossil-jellyfish-pilbara).
Of the find, lead author and geologist Aaron Sappenfield notes that the
fossils are of “really high resolution” and have “surprising detail”. Jellyfish
stranded on beaches today don’t survive very long at all when exposed to the
elements and to scavengers. Sappenfeld confirms they are very difficult to
preserve, but tries to explain this by postulating a “unique” set of conditions.
First, he points out, large scavengers such as the birds and crustaceans which
today will quickly eat a stranded jellyfish were (by evolutionary reasoning)
absent in those ‘Cambrian times’. Second, he proposes that the sand was
“microbe-rich” and unusually “sticky”, supposedly helping their preservation.
Jellyfish comprise some 98% water, which quickly evaporates in the sun, so
their bodies readily collapse and the thin layers left quickly decompose. And
even granting the evolutionary idea that land predators had not evolved yet,
microbes causing decomposition would have. So while Sappenfield is correct
that fossilizing these delicate creatures requires extraordinary conditions,
“microbe-rich” environments are hardly the solution.
Rapid burial in a lot of sediment, widespread during the Genesis Flood,
seems key to explaining the fossils of these delicate creatures with such surprising (to long-agers) detail, preventing their impressions in the sand from being
eroded in the next tide. As the livescience.com article’s caption to a Sappenfield
photo of one of the specimens admits: “this jellyfish was likely buried in sand
after it became stranded”. But they overlook the need for it to be rapid.
Weisberger, M., Desert fossils reveal 540-million-year-old jellyfish ‘graveyard’, livescience.com,
Sappenfield, A.D. et al., Earth’s oldest jellyfish strandings: a unique taphonomic window or just
another day at the beach? Geol. Mag. 154( 4):859–854, July 2017 | doi: 10.1017/S0016756816000443.
BARLEY GENOME DECODED—WITH A LOT OF WORK!
the fourth most abundant cereal crop worldwide.
Director of Western Barley Genetics Alliance (Western Australia) Professor Chengdao Li
said that this genome map would greatly assist those involved in breeding new barley varie-ties (drought resistance, higher yield, etc.).
“Barley has a large and complex genome, with 5.1 billion genetic letters assem-
bled into seven chromosomes,” Professor Li said. “This research was so large and
complex that no single country had the capacity, so an international collaboration
Plant scientist and CMI-Australia head Dr Don Batten commented:
“Plants can produce all the organic compounds needed for life from simple
chemicals (water, CO2, etc.). Consequently, they have an amazing
range of biochemical pathways. However, wall cress, or mouse-ear
cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), also a flowering plant, has only 119
million letters in its five chromosomes. What does all the extra
DNA coding do in barley? That will comprise an interesting
and protracted research program. Hopefully the dead-end
evolutionary idea of ‘junk DNA’ (that huge chunks of
an organism’s genome are useless leftovers of evolu-
tion) has finally been buried and will not hinder this
research, as it has done with human DNA.”
Fulwood, J., Genetic map points the way to advanced
new barley, Ground Cover 129, July–August 2017
(Grains Research & Development Corporation).
CREATION NEWS AND VIEWS