Oldest Hairy Microbes Found In “Snowball Earth”

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From “snowball” to “snowball,” evolution experimented with modern microbes.

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Microfossils are fairly hard to come by since most tiny microbes are quite fragile and disintegrate quickly when they die. By dissolving crushed rock in acid, MIT geobiologist Tanis Bosak and colleagues have found many microfossils in Cryogenian limestone from Namibia and Mongolia. According to evolutionists, this Precambrian rock is sandwiched between rock from two intensely icy “Snowball Earth” phases of our geo-history.

Foraminifera, amoeba, and ciliates were fossilized in limestone laid down, by evolutionary reckoning, between the “ice ages” of 635 million and 715 million years ago. Molecular clock calculations indicate their ancestral roots reach back more than a billion years. “Having found this, we know other things should have been there,” Bosak says, “possibly not leaving a fossil record. . . . This provides some hope that we can actually start looking at biological changes. There is a record of these changes, and that’s what we’re showing by finding these fossils.”1

Preservation was possible because all had protective armor. Foraminifera—both ancient and modern—glue mineral grains to themselves, building brick-like enclosures. The amoebas had similar armor. The ciliate fossils resemble modern planktonic tintinnids. Tintinnids have flask-shaped shells surrounded by buoyant bubbles. These microfossils, examined by scanning electron microscopy, are similar to modern forms even at the ultrastructural level.2 “We can't claim we have seen something that is exactly like the modern species,” Bosak says. “(But) here we have something that has looked very similar for 700 or more million years.”

Bosak considers these discoveries evolutionary change in action. The ancestors of these microbes survived the earlier “iceball earth” age by evolving protective shells, she believes. The evolved armor also explains how microbes survived the next severe ice age to live on as the “living fossils” we see today and to evolve into multicellular life forms. “Massive changes in biology and chemistry during this time led to the evolution of animals,” Bosak adds. “We don’t know how fast these changes occurred, and now we are finding evidence of an increase in complexity.”3 The next layers up in the geologic column, after all, contain fossils thought to be animal embryos.

These microbes not only provided genetic raw material for up-and-coming life-forms, Bosak believes, but also prepared earth for their advent by precipitating the Great Oxidation Event. The primordial forms presumably did this by dying and taking their organic compounds with them to the bottom of the sea. By burying much of earth’s carbon so it couldn’t be recycled into carbon dioxide, they made room for the atmosphere to fill with oxygen produced by early photosynthesizers. Bosak explains, “You have this resistant material that sinks to anaerobic oceans, where it takes longer to degrade. As a result, you could sequester more carbon … that in turn releases more oxygen.”4

Evolutionists assume early earth was anoxic because biochemical building blocks of life could not form while exposed to oxygen. (See “The First Atmosphere—Geological Evidences and Their Implications” and “Potential Evidence for The Great Oxidation Event” for information about this anoxic notion.) Yet in order for animals to evolve from those chemicals, photosynthetic microbes would have to have evolved to produce an oxygen supply.

Evolutionary geologists committed to uniformitarian principles assume multiple glaciations occurred but cannot prove they did. (They also cannot explain the one Ice Age clearly evident in the world’s rocks.) Diamictite—a fragmented assortment of sedimentary rock such as that in which these microfossils were found—is often cited as proof of ancient glacial scourings but in fact can be produced by many non-glacial mechanisms, including submarine landslides. (See “A Snail’s Tale of the Past,” “The Ice Age,” and “Only One Ice Age” to learn more about the real Ice Age and the imaginary ones.) Thus by re-creating earth’s history along uniformitarian principles, evolutionists created a survival mystery now “solved” by finding armored microfossils.

The diamictite like that examined here is found at the same level in the geologic record in many places. Such diamictite deposits are consistent with a collapse of continental shelves as would be expected due to earthquakes and landslides at the beginning of the Flood.

The global Flood described in the Bible buried billions of organisms and created conditions that caused the subsequent recent Ice Age. Most Precambrian rock layers were formed before the Flood and contain only microfossils. Some Precambrian microbes with their little shell casings could be preserved in comparatively quiescent waters of the pre-Flood world. However, the diamictite like that examined here is found at the same level in the geologic record in many places. Such diamictite deposits are consistent with a collapse of continental shelves as would be expected due to earthquakes and landslides at the beginning of the Flood. Thus these microfossils may well have been among the first buried at the onset of the Flood. The geologic column is a timeline of earth history, but not of millions of years, only of about 6,000.

Bosak has not witnessed evolution in action. Her team has found microbes likely preserved at the onset of the Flood. These microbes were not transitioning into anything else. There is no known mechanism by which they could give rise to multicellular life, nor could there be since God created all kinds of life in the beginning to reproduce after their kinds, not to evolve into new kinds. Molecular clock predictions, as discussed last week are built upon a statistical house of cards, attempting to predict how long evolution would take if it could happen and if mutation rates were known to be stable. Finally, earth did not require the ministrations of dying microbes to create an oxygen atmosphere so animal life could evolve. God created earth “to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18), complete with an oxygen atmosphere, which by the fifth day of Creation Week was supporting animal life. The Bible’s history is consistent with what we see in the world of biology and geology.

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  1. Jennifer Chu, “The First Hairy Microbes,” MIT News, November 16, 2011, http://news.mit.edu/2011/hairy-microbes-1116.
  2. T. Bosak et al., “Putative Cryogenian Ciliates from Mongolia,” Geology 39, no. 12 (October 21, 2011): 1123–1126, doi:10.1130/G32384.1.
  3. Chu, “The First Hairy Microbes.”
  4. Ibid.


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