The oxymoron “living fossil” is suggestive. Seeing a plant or animal come to life, when it was only known from fossils, might seem miraculous. Perhaps, though, the phrase was invented to rescue Darwinian theory from the vast ages it requires. Is it credible to believe the time gaps? Here are two recent stories about creatures long thought dead, only to be found doing “Quite well, thank you.”
Tick talk. Researchers in South Africa were sure that the living fossil they found represented an “evolutionary missing link” that might help explain relationships between several lineages of arthropods that “evolved” the blood feeding trait independently. This led to queer sentences like this in their PLoS One paper.1 “Thus, even though blood-feeding evolved in the ancestral tick lineage, the adaptation to the mammalian and avian blood-feeding interfaces occurred independently in the soft and hard tick families.” It also seems weird for the ancestor of diverse lineages of ticks to be doing just fine in a living form, with no evolutionary change for many millions of years:
In conclusion, phylogenetic analysis indicates that N. namaqua groups basal to both tick families and is the closest extant lineage to the last common ancestral tick lineage. Its argasid-like feeding behaviour and biology provides compelling evidence for the evolution of a blood-feeding lifestyle within the last common ancestral tick lineage. The semi-arid nature of the Northern Cape as found in Namaqualand and the Karoo has been maintained since Permian times. The partiality of N. namaqua for xeric environments and small reptiles could therefore be an indication of a lifestyle maintained for more than 250 million years. This would truly make this tick species a living fossil.
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