Every time a new fossil turns up, a theory quakes. New evidence can subject a theory to the falsification test.

Here are new fossil discoveries in recent days. Can evolutionary theory tolerate them? From past experience, they have shown a well-stocked shed of rescue devices.

Marine fossils

Sponge surprise. An exceptionally preserved set of sponge fossils has been found in China. Since these date from shortly after the alleged Ordovician Extinction (445 million Darwin Years ago), it’s surprising they were doing so well; “These post-extinction sponge faunas were as diverse as modern communities,” Current Biology reports. “Our study reveals an extraordinarily diverse, sponge-dominated community thriving immediately after” the extinction event. Some 75 species were identified.

The early fish. Scientist discovered a fish in China that didn’t know its debut date. It showed up before the Devonian “Age of Fishes,” PLoS One says. All the discoverers could think to say was that this area of China “may have been an early center of diversification for early gnathostomes, well before the advent of the Devonian ‘Age of Fishes’.Science Daily ran up with a ring buoy, saying that the fossil “may provide insight into the early evolution of jawed vertebrates.” Insight is nice, isn’t it?

Monster catfish. A giant catfish almost 7 feet long has been found, but you’ll never guess where. National Geographic gives the answer: the Sahara, in “a dramatic, forbidding desert southwest of Cairo,” Egypt. It’s said to be 37 million Darwin Years old.

Monster worm. Searching through museum shelves, scientists found the jaws of a monster worm with powerful jaws that preyed on fish. Phys.org calls it a case of gigantism, “a poorly understood phenomenon among marine worms” according to the discoverers. They give this fossil 400 million Darwin Years. Be glad it’s extinct; it would have been about a meter long with snapping jaws.

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