Why Evolution Is True

Last year Russell Garwood, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester (ergo Matthew Cobb’s colleague), published a paper in Nature Communications along with several collaborators (reference below). The results were striking: fossil harvestmen (arachnids sometimes known as “daddy long-legs”) from 305 million years ago are strikingly similar to modern species—so similar, in fact, that they can be identified as members of existing lineages (suborders).  In other words, this group shows a striking morphological stasis: a lack of evolution of at least the fossilizable parts of the body.  I hasten to add that some body parts, like the genitals, were not preserved, and that of course there could have been substantial evolution of biochemical systems, physiology, and internal anatomy that can’t be seen in fossils. Nevertheless, we have few groups that show such profound stasis.  And 305 millon years ago is a longtime ago: that’s around the period when…

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