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back to article First eyes EVER SEEN (by definition) appeared 700 million years ago

Animals were seeing stuff a lot earlier than previously thought, a new study suggests. Cnidaria When exactly the ability to see evolved in animals has been hotly contested among boffins, but researchers from Bristol and Maynooth universities reckon a group of marine animals first "saw" the light 700 million years ago. Using …

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But but...

But the Earth is only about 6000 years old!?!? :P

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Boffin

Re: But but...

9,000 years according Paul Broun.

And he should know, as he's a physician and member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the House of Representatives.

It's good that the science deniers can never agree on when the universe was born, but the Scientist generally do. OK, so the boffins sometime revise their dates (as shown in the article), but that is usually followed by nods of agreement from their peers. Meanwhile the buffoons continue to argue over a couple of hundred years.

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Re: But but...

The fact is that the calendar didn't exist long ago so really we have no proof what was happening. Sure we can make guesses and this is what scientists are paid to do, but when they promote those guesses as facts that's when people take issue with it. There is no consensus on the age of the Earth, talk to different experts and they will disagree. Some say 6000 years, some say 10,000 years, some say millions of years, some billions and some say it's been around forever.

I am not going to claim an old earth is a myth or deny it has evidence going for it, but so too does a young earth. The best people to think about this question are children as their lack of knowledge is actually a virtue: they are immune to bias. So why not present to them the evidence for both a young earth and an old earth in schools and let them decide?

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Facepalm

Re: But but...

@NomNomNom

The scientists "guesses" get promoted when they become useful tools to describe and predict things. If those guesses are unsuccessful at describing and predicting, they get thrown out or overthrown by "guesses" that do a better job. That is the scientific method. Why does it scare people?

Kids wouldn't have bias, but kids also would not have enough information and context to accurately weigh the position of each side of the argument.

Still, are you suggesting that we present two options to otherwise uninformed kids:

1 - over billions of years, ruled by these forces between particles and energies, we have all this.

2 - A few thousand years ago, some untestable omnipotent thing got bored and Poofed everything into existence, including elaborate fossil histories. Just trust us. Don't question it. Want some candy?

Did you ever see your great great great grandparents? If not, do you therefore think that they did not exist?

Why are so many people afraid or unable to think?

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Re: But but...

I thought there was a lot of evidence for an old earth, otherwise aren't we going to have to throw out these various ideas for a start...evolution, physics, critical thinking?

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Facepalm

Re: But but...

Seriously? You are posting that without a troll face?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But but...

Wow! So you have determined the exact ratios of U-238/Pb-206 and U-235/Pb-207 at the formation of the solar system?!?! I'll bet you even have exacting and reproducible evidence for the original ratio of Pb-206/Pb-204 and Pb-207/Pb-204 for the same time! Please do share from your vast fount of inestimable knowledge and experience.

While you're at it perhaps you can explain why "billion-year-old" diamonds have detectable traces of C-14 in them. Maybe you think it leached in through the hardest natural substance or perhaps you just don't understand how carbon decay works...?

I'm sure you're also aware that the upper limit for salinity of the oceans is 62 million years and so you have a proven method of desalinization to account for a couple billion years of deposits. Maybe you'll attempt to argue albitization, but then you'd have to find a peer-reviewed journal that gives Glen Morton's theory any credence.

Mockery is not an argument and it definitely doesn't make the case for you - particularly when the "proof" is a computer simulation of what "could" have happened "if" the situation happened to be what was programmed into it. On the other hand, there is some hard science that indicates a much younger age for the earth than "billions" of years ( http://creation.com/age-of-the-earth ). The problem is not a paucity of reasonable arguments against the long-age hypothesis, it's that you would rather burn down straw men than consider any evidence you do not like.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But but...

@benzaholic - Yay! Weak analogy fallacy!!! Perhaps you could throw in some abusive ad hominem, untestability, and maybe even a slothful induction for some color. Assuming of course that you've evolved the sloth yet...

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Re: But but...

Awww crap I'm gonna bite (wish me luck folks).

Since I've done radiodating of geological samples I might be speaking with a small amount of (slightly hung over) authority, or I could be part of the evil cabal of earth scientists who are hoping to become infinitely rich by telling people the world is really, really, really old (and very cool - apart from the hot bits obviously).

The age of the Earth isn't solely derived from U->Pb dating (although that was the first method tried). The relative volatility of lead is a real problem with older samples which are likely to have been metamorphosed since original crystallisation. Instead the range of dates for the formation of the Earth is based on various dating methods including Pb -> Pb, Sm -> Nd, Rb -> Sr and Re -> Os, all of which come in around 4.51 - 4.68 Gya with a typical range of +/- 0.15Gy.

Pb -> Pb dates are referenced against a geochron which was taken from meteoritic dates of IIRC three stony meteorites of different compositions and two iron meteorites. If you want detail look up the Holmes-Houtermans method for Pb -> Pb dating. Basic chemistry tells us that the iron-nickel troilite alloy of iron meteorites is depleted in uranium so it will not contain radiogenic lead derived from uranium decay. So the ratios of lead isotopes in iron meteorites are those of the primeval solar system.

C-14 in diamonds? If you're talking about the Baumgardner and RATE work, it has been heavily criticised for not following proper procedures in handling carbon isotopes. Anomalous radiocarbon readings are occasionally found in studies of carbonates, but the fact the vast majority of geological samples do not show radiocarbon forces us to conclude that the problem is either with instrumentation or with the way samples are prepared for analysis.

Ocean salinity? Really? Seriously? You're still using that one. Look Edmond Halley didn't know how evaporite deposits form or how widespread they are. T. Mellard Reade, John Joly and George Becker didn't know about plate tectonics - they didn't know that ocean waters (containing salt) are in intimate contact with magma at mid-ocean ridges; that a volume of water equivalent to the entire ocean passes through the oceanic crust every 10 million years; or that salt water is subducted into the Mantle in ocean plates and sediments.

In short, a lot of science has happened.

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@NomNomNom

Obvious troll is obvious.

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Anonymous Coward

"The fact is that the calendar didn't exist long ago so really we have no proof what was happening."

What a strange statement. The implication is that we can have no proof of events until somebody came up with a calendar...as if time itself didn't flow until we applied a man-made measurement to it....how very bizarre. By the same logic the bible cannot state what happened either as I don;t recall it saying 'In the beginning God created a calendar.'

Secondly the calendar DID exists anyway - we just weren't around to give the parts of it names yet. The Earth still wend around the sun and it still rotated on it's own axis (unless such talk is heretical) - the fact that humans weren't around to call a specific rotation 'Wednesday' is neither here nor there.

Also, how do we know that the jellyfish didn't have their own calendar?

PS. On a separate but related matter, maybe you can answer something for me. Why do Christians think it is OK to use names in the calendar that worship other gods...every day of the week is a name in worship of other gods or pagan worship of heavenly bodies, and most months too (not to mention the holiest christian day of Easter!). And yet when I say I'm going on leave at Xmas they moan that I shouldn't use the name as I don't worship Christ...but ask them why they can say 'I am going on leave on Wednesday" even though they don't worship Woden/Odin and they have no reply...genuinely not a dig..just curious as to your take on it.

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FAIL

Re: But but...

" So why not present to them the evidence for both a young earth and an old earth in schools and let them decide?"

Because there is no evidence and you're a retard.

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IT Angle

Re: But but...

All credit to NomNomNom for not posting anonymously the other cowards are not quite so sure of their beliefs as they profess. But seriously Children are the best arbiters of the validity of a scientific theory? Maybe we should propose Quantum Theory to them vs The Goddidit 'Theory'.... I think if sufficiently young and I wore a serious clerical outfit and threatened them with an eternity of hell they may well go for the Goddidit option. Of course then all computers, phones and other microprocessor powered electronics would stop working cos every fule knows that objective reality is determined by what kids believe. Terry Pratchett says as much in his books, but they are works of fiction and to a degree a satire of religious belief...

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Re: "The fact is that the calendar didn't exist..."

@AC 09:30 Religious types are not capable of joined up thinking. It didn't happen until a holy person tells them it did.

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Re: But but...

> I thought there was a lot of evidence for an old earth, otherwise aren't we going to have to throw out these various ideas for a start...evolution, physics, critical thinking?

Are you seriously putting evolution and physics on the same level?

Physics you can play with and does stuff which can make your life better. Make a lever, put it on a pivot and see how much force is required to move an object, or use steam to drive an engine to move goods across continents. Evolution (in this context) can't be replicated and does nothing for the betterment of humanity.

If physics were as subject to revision as evolution (as this article notes) is, gravity would be all over the place and the speed of light in a vacuum would be revised every year or so. E would = M(x)C^y with x and y unknown. Evolution doesn't "develop," there is practically nothing "hard" about it, on which you can build. It just wibbles around in a constant stream of "oh look, stuff we thought was quite advanced and should appear later has shown up quite early on" (like the eyes in the article) and "oh look, stuff we thought was ancient has turned up in a fishing net quite un-evolved." Its less scientific than psychology. At least with psychology, you can repeat things and see whether they still hold true - you can act on the elements themselves rather assuming nothing has really changed over billions of years.

How many of the "common ancestors" between the major life forms on earth do we actually have evidence for? Is there anything that evolutionary scientists agree on, apart from the fact that "evolution happened"?

Who here would like the electricity supply to their house to vary as much as evolutionary "science" does? Who would like the electricity supply voltage to vary geographically according to the theories held by the local proponents of evolution? It would be chaos. What if the properties of steel and concrete changed in the same way that evolutionary "knowledge" changes? Try building a bridge with that!

We'll find eyes much earlier somewhere else in a year or two.

I don't need science which behaves like that. It isn't useful and doesn't extend my understanding of the real world.

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Happy

Re: But but...

@ Mike Richards

I think you bit rater well mate. Solid arguments don't need luck.

Doubt if the Dumdumdum troll or 'wisdom of infants' AC twit would understand what you have pointed out though. None so blind as those that don't want to see - hence 'Blind Faith'.

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Re: But but...

Thanks guys that makes a lot of sense I now believe the scientists.

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Pint

I think you'll find it pre-dates fishes in the sea and stuff, by about 4 days.

Gen 1:4: And God *saw* the light, that it was good

See?

Surely that's better evidence than a computer simulation based on finger-in-the area parameters? Right?

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Coat

The Holy Jellyfish?

God was a jellyfish?

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Devil

Re: The Holy Jellyfish?

Hail Cthulhu!

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Happy

Re: The Holy Jellyfish?

May you be touched by his (kind of) noodly (albeit in a squishy over-cooked kind of way) appendage.

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Re: The Holy Jellyfish?

Some people mistake His tentacles for spaghetti...

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Trollface

Puhleease place yor hands upon the TeeVee set and you will be heeeled!

Brother Slith, it appears you have been infected by rampant Creationism and we implore you to put your bible down and back away from the pamphlet stand before we have to put you out of our misery.

Talk about the "Blind leading the Blind"!

And yes before the pedants comment I have a good command of sarcasm and I understands it when I see's it. nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

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Coat

"I can't see the point of this" says 701million year old fish

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Anonymous Coward

Evolved from jellyfish?

So we humans (and everything else with eyes, incl. bugs) are evolved from jellyfish?

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Def
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Headmaster

Re: Evolved from jellyfish?

Not quite. Humans and jellyfish probably share a common ancestor.

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Headmaster

Re: Not quite

Read the article......

"The great relevance of our study is that we traced the earliest origin of vision and we found that it originated only once in animals," Dr Davide Pisani of Bristol said. "This is an astonishing discovery because it implies that our study uncovered, in consequence, how and when vision evolved in humans."

So human vision started in Jellyfish.....

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Re: Evolved from jellyfish?

It means the proteins used in vision evolved first in jellyfish so we probably have common genetics. Our system of vision evolved much later with the first vertebrates. Nautilus has a pin hole eye whilst other cephalopods have a completely different (and in some ways superior) vision system using the same basic chemistry and genetics, the trilobites had yet another and so on...

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Forerunner of the brain ?

Would it be plausible to imagine that some of the cells that responded to light in very early eyes such as those discussed then went on to develop into brains?

I mean in the sense that such cells would be the earliest in our ancestral lineage to operate neurologically and a ganglion or cluster of such cells might act as a simple brain. I think I read something postulating such an idea some time back.

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Coat

Re: Evolved from jellyfish?

"So we humans (and everything else with eyes, incl. bugs) are evolved from jellyfish?"

It does explain the Carter Administration ...

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Meh

Re: Not quite

Read the article.

1) The authors find opsin genes in placozoans, and thus infer that the first opsin gene appeared *before* jellyfish, in a common ancestor of jellyfish and placozoans. (Placozoans are among the simplest possible multi-cellular animals, being a flattened pouch of exterior epithelial cells surrounding an internal sheet of stellate cells.) However, it's unclear whether *vision* arose in that ancestor, because it's unclear whether or not that gene made a protein that was sensitive to light in its final form.

2) Previously, the opsin genes in Bilateria (animals with left/right symmetry, like us and fish, rather than radial symmetry like jellyfish) were grouped into 3 types. The authors extend this grouping by showing that the opsin genes from Cnidaria and Ctenophora (jellyfish and related animals) also fit into these 3 types. Thus, the authors infer that the first animal with a full set of 3 types of opsin genes was a common ancestor of all of the Cnidaria, Ctenophora, and Bilateria (and so, pre-jellyfish). The assumption is that by the time of the 3 opsin genes, these genes made light-sensitive proteins and so were involved in vision of some sort.

It's not clear whether the authors fit the placozoan opsin genes into the 3 types above.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Evolved from jellyfish?

Carter was a decent man, but our descending from jelly fish simply explains Mitt Romney and the lack of evolution in some humans. At least, I think he's human...well he kind of looks human...then there's his wife...yikes!

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Coat

Re: Evolved from jellyfish?

Err one small point .... "probably share a common ancestor"

No, evolution tells us we DEFINITELY share a common ancestor. In fact ALL life on Earth shares a common ancestor (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Common_descent)

One of the coolest things about evolution, religious nutters get wound up about being 'descended' from monkeys (Related as we share a common ancestor, so we are cousins) . FFS you are a cousin to bacteria, grass, duck billed platypuses and dinosaurs!

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This discovery probably means that the date of the first porn needs to be updated as well.

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Joke

This Study Is Biased

... to the animal kingdom!

Potatoes have eyes. When did they first appear?

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Re: This Study Is Biased

hmm, actually good point, plants are photosensative, would have thought the basics for eyes would have been before any animals...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Study Is Biased

The earliest occurence must be surface cells responding to electromagnetic radiation.

The various modern eye models are probably not all evolved from each other - but suggest an evolutionary sequence in any particular species.

Some modern examples of "eyes":

The different feelings of heat on the skin in direct sunshine or shadow.

Snakes' infra-red detection in shallow pits in the head.

Nautilus with a sensory "retina" in a cavity with a pinhole opposite it for fixed-focus with a large depth of field.

Animals with a relatively transparent covering over the pinhole. Gives better protection of the retina.

Animals able to vary the size of the opening to handle light changes - and flex the transparent layer for focus.

The part of the electromagnetic spectrum detected varies according to environmental pressures. From ultraviolet to infrared - with frequency (colour) differentiation to various degrees of definition.

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Boffin

Re: This Study Is Biased

Uh Oh. Now you've gone and done it.

You have presented a plausible development path over millions of years.

It's even testable, at least as simply as we would expect to see increasing complexity over time if this were correct, while finding dramatically decreasing complexity across the fossil record would strongly suggest that this theory is incorrect. Gee. Science.

It all starts from that ability to feel the difference between sunshine and shadow. Given how much more visible a creature in sunshine is likely to be than a creature in the shadow, it would make sense that those creatures who were less effective at distinguishing between the two WOULD GET EATEN AND NOT REPRODUCE.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Study Is Biased

"Given how much more visible a creature in sunshine is likely to be than a creature in the shadow, it would make sense that those creatures who were less effective at distinguishing between the two WOULD GET EATEN AND NOT REPRODUCE."

That presupposes that a predatory creature had already evolved sight for hunting. However it would be an evolutionary pressure on the predated species. Black and white moth populations of the same species are altered depending on whether their manmade environment is clean (light) or dirty (dark). Those that have the contrasting colour get picked off more easily.

Interestingly snakes have very poor eyesight. They flick their tongues out to "taste" for scents. Their forward-looking infrared pits are an additional facility that gives them a good idea of where to aim for a warm-blooded prey.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Study Is Biased

"[...] while finding dramatically decreasing complexity across the fossil record would strongly suggest that this theory is incorrect."

Decreasing complexity may be subsequent simplification that gives a better "fitness for purpose" in a changed environment.

Early human ancestors had a foot more like a hand - as chimpanzees still do. It could be argued that the foot, along with the pelvis, has become a simpler construct. This improved the bipedal mode of walking when the environmental changes caused dense forests to give way to open grasslands.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Study Is Biased

[[ citation needed ]]

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@Network 67 Re: This Study Is Biased

"Given how much more visible a creature in sunshine is likely to be than a creature in the shadow, it would make sense that those creatures who were less effective at distinguishing between the two WOULD GET EATEN AND NOT REPRODUCE."

"That presupposes that a predatory creature had already evolved sight for hunting. However it would be an evolutionary pressure on the predated species. "

It would be entirely possible to evolve sight in order to avoid a predator which hunts you by other means, for example scent.

There would of course be any number of uses for primitive sight/light/heat sensitivity prior to its refinement to a level where it would be useful in predation. To help a creature orient itself, to navigate, to avoid getting damaged in direct sunlight, to find a suitable location to reproduce, for example.

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Stop

Re: This Study Is Biased

"It all starts from that ability to feel the difference between sunshine and shadow. Given how much more visible a creature in sunshine is likely to be than a creature in the shadow"

Actually, it all starts with the ability to orientate oneself in the right direction: Up=glowy stuff. I believe that's about as far as most jellyfish ever got.

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Anonymous Coward

That jellyfish is a terrible design. Not complex enough. Back to the drawing board! ;)

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'That jellyfish is a terrible design. Not complex enough. Back to the drawing board! ;)'

But it might be immortal...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/03/jellyfish_gone_wilder/

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Anonymous Coward

Good books

My description of possible evolutionary stages of eyes from skin through nautilus etc are not an original insight.

They came from the book "Eye and Brain - the psychology of seeing" by R.LGregory. Pub 1966 - third edition 1977. There have been two subsequent editions - the last in 1997.

Another related recommendation is "Reading in the Brain - the new science of how we read" by Stanislas Dehaene Pub 2009. Writing/reading is too recent to have changed human physiological evolution. Therefore the world's different writing systems are all constrained to take advantage of much older visual functions that evolved for basic survival.

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Anonymous Coward

Foreign jellyfish eyes, perhaps!

But NOT our home-grown (created) American jellyfish!

Jebus made them at 3:17pm on the day the oceans were stocked.

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Devil

Jelly Fisch

A bit larger than Micro Fisch

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