Oldest Aussie animals found, according to reports in ScienceDaily and Nature Geoscience, 17 August 2010, and BBC News 18 August 2010. A group of scientists from Princeton University have found fossils of sponges “beneath a 635 million-year-old glacial deposit” in the Trezona Formation in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. The scientists described their finds as weakly calcified fossils contained within stromatolitic (fossil algae colonies) limestones. The fossils pre-date the oldest known calcified fossils by 90 million years. The fossils could not be separated out from the matrix they were embedded in, so scientists took thin slices from the rock surface and photographed the surface after each slice. They then used 3D imaging software to reconstruct the fossils and concluded: “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.” Metazoans are multi-cellular animals. Adam Maloof of the Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, who led the research, commented: “People have certainly proposed complex organisms, like eukaryotic algae or protists, and have even proposed animals in the form of trace fossils (preserved tracks) prior to the sponges that we report. But I think we could confidently say that our sponges are the first somewhat convincing body fossils of an animal before the Ediacaran Period.”

BBC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: These fossils were identified as sponges because they have the similar structure to sponges presently living on the sea floor. If they really have been around for 635 million years sponges are spectacularly un-evolved. No matter how old they are, these fossils are evidence that sponges have always been sponges and have multiplied after their kind, just as Genesis says. Our Creation Research Outback Tour recently visited the Flinders Ranges, where these fossils and the famous Ediacara fossils were found. We saw examples of fossil stromatolites, worm burrows and Ediacaran fauna, none of which showed any evidence of evolving from or into anything else. Stromatolites and worms are still here. Some Ediacaran animals seem to be extinct, but that is no help to the theory of evolution. Instead it is evidence that the world once had more kinds of animals and some have died out. This is also consistent with Genesis, which tells us the world has degenerated a lot since man rebelled against his Creator and God cursed the ground and later sent the worldwide Flood of Noah. (Ref. zoology, fossilisation, invertebrates)

Evidence News 25 August 2010