F Rosa Rubicondior: Creationism in Crisis - 160-Million-Year-Old Predatory Lampreys Makes Suckers of Creationists

Friday 3 November 2023

Creationism in Crisis - 160-Million-Year-Old Predatory Lampreys Makes Suckers of Creationists

Yanliaomyzon ingensdentes (artist's impression)

Heming Zhang
Jawless ‘Bite’ from the Past: Jurassic Fossils Shed Light on Lamprey Evolution--Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology

Way back in that long spell before 'Creation Week', the creation cult's date when the Universe was created, when 99.97% of Earth's history happened, there were two large, flesh-eating lampreys looking for victims to bore into. Unlike their blood-sucking modern relatives, which latch onto fish and suck their blood and body fluids, these ancient species probably ate the flesh of their victims.

These rare fossils were discovered in 160-million-year-old rocks in North China and are part of the Yanliao Biota, which is found in rock formations that are proving to be a valuable Lagerstätte.
Rosa Rubicondior, The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is not Good, Chapter 4: Parasitic Vertebrates. pp. 106-107
Tell me all about lampreys, including their evolution, life-cycle and taxonomy. Lampreys are a group of jawless fish known for their unique and primitive characteristics. They belong to the taxonomic class Agnatha, which includes hagfishes and lampreys. Lampreys are further classified into the order Petromyzontiformes. Let's delve into more detail about lampreys, including their evolution, life cycle, and taxonomy:
  1. Evolution:
    Lampreys are often referred to as "living fossils" because they represent one of the most ancient lineages of vertebrates. They have been around for hundreds of millions of years and are believed to have appeared on Earth over 360 million years ago. Their simple, eel-like body plan and lack of jaws are characteristics reminiscent of early vertebrates. Lampreys are considered a transitional link between jawless fish and the later jawed fish, such as sharks and bony fish.
  2. Taxonomy:
    • Kingdom: Animalia
    • Phylum: Chordata
    • Subphylum: Vertebrata
    • Class: Agnatha
    • Order: Petromyzontiformes
    • Family: Petromyzontidae
  3. Anatomy:
    Lampreys are characterized by their elongated, cylindrical bodies and a cartilaginous notochord instead of a true vertebral column. They have a round, sucker-like mouth filled with rows of teeth, which they use to attach to other fish, allowing them to feed on their host's blood and bodily fluids.
  4. Life Cycle:
    The life cycle of lampreys is characterized by metamorphosis and anadromy (migration between saltwater and freshwater). Here's a simplified overview:
    1. Egg Stage: Lampreys start their life as fertilized eggs laid in freshwater habitats like rivers or streams. The eggs are typically buried in sediment to protect them.
    2. Larval Stage: Upon hatching, lampreys enter the larval stage, where they are filter-feeding organisms. During this stage, they have a similar appearance to tadpoles, with well-defined gill openings.
    3. Metamorphosis: As they grow, lampreys undergo a metamorphic process. They develop their characteristic sucker-like mouth and sharp teeth, which marks the transition from the larval to the parasitic adult stage.
    4. Adult Stage: Adult lampreys migrate to the ocean or larger bodies of water, where they attach to fish hosts using their sucker-like mouth and feed on the host's blood and body fluids. After a period of parasitic feeding (which can last several months), they return to freshwater to spawn.
    5. Spawning: Lampreys spawn by digging nests in the riverbed and laying their eggs. After spawning, most lampreys die, completing their life cycle.
  5. Ecology:
    Lampreys play an essential role in aquatic ecosystems by serving as both prey and predators. They can impact the populations of their fish hosts and are a valuable food source for various animals, such as birds, mammals, and other fish.
In summary, lampreys are ancient, jawless fish with a unique and fascinating life cycle. They represent a significant chapter in the evolutionary history of vertebrates and continue to thrive in various freshwater and marine environments worldwide.
The new fossil species are causing scientists to rethink lamprey evolution as it was assumed that they had always been blood and body-fluid sucking animals, however this shows that at least some of them developed into predatory carnivores as long ago as 160 million years.

The discovery is the subject of an open access paper in the journal Nature Communications and a press release from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences:
The precious specimens were discovered in the famed Lagerstatte Yanliao Biota from rocks dating back 158-163 million years. One of them, Yanliaomyzon occisor or "Yanliao sucker killer," is 642 mm long (about 25 inches) and is the largest fossil lamprey ever found. Both fossils superbly preserve the lampreys’ keratinous teeth. After carefully examining the fossils, the scientists reinterpreted lamprey evolution, particularly their feeding apparatus, life cycle, and historic biogeography. The Jurassic fossils’ feeding apparatus strikingly resembles that of the living pouched lamprey Geotria australis, a flesh-feeding species.

Our study resolved these Jurassic lampreys as the closest fossil relatives to extant lampreys. Contrary to conventional wisdom that modern lampreys’ ancestors fed on blood, our study showed that these two Jurassic lampreys must be flesh eaters, which foreshadows the flesh-eating habit of the most recent common ancestor of modern lampreys."

Feixiang Wu, lead author
Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China>
The study also recognized the Jurassic as a watershed in lamprey evolutionary history.

During the earlier Paleozoic era, lampreys may not have been predacious like their living relatives. This is based on consideration of Paleozoic lampreys’ dwarfed body size and weak, simply assembled teeth. Furthermore, most other contemporaneous ancient fishes were heavily armored—with hard scales and body covers that prevented these tiny lampreys from biting through. However, as the abundant emergence of the ‘advanced’ teleost fishes with thinned scales since the Early Jurassic—changes that increased food availability—lampreys also changed.

The abundant emergence of advanced teleost fishes with thinned scales by the Early Jurassic might have provided an important evolutionary opportunity for lampreys. With the enhanced feeding structures, Jurassic lampreys onward were able to grow sufficiently large to meet the energy requirement of the evolution of a ‘prolonged’ life cycle interposed by the metamorphosis stage and involved in dramatic environmental shifts.

Feixiang Wu
A time-calibrated family tree is the basis of an evolutionary history narrative. Inference of the time tree for lamprey evolution was performed in a Bayesian total-evidence dating framework. "Compared with the parsimony method, Bayesian inference is able to integrate various sources of information in a probabilistic setting while accounting for the uncertainties of the parameters, thus avoiding ad-hoc determinations and partial use of the data," said ZHANG Chi, another corresponding author of the study. This method also makes possible the inference of ancestral geographical areas for lampreys. The history of the anti-tropical distribution pattern of lampreys has baffled biogeographers due to the extremely thin fossil record of the group. With the calibrations of the Jurassic lampreys , the lineage of the pouched lamprey in the Southern Hemisphere was resolved as the earliest diverged lineage among living lampreys. Thus, the study estimates that modern lampreys originated in the Southern Hemisphere during the Late Cretaceous. This contradicts the conventional wisdom that lampreys originated in the Northern Hemisphere, where most extant lamprey species live.

This discovery clearly indicates that the extant southern lampreys retain a feeding morphology that already arose in the Jurassic, and that modern lamprey phylogeny is now consistent with a Southern Hemisphere origin, combined with an adaptation to a carnivorous diet.

Professor Philippe Janvier, co-author
Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, France.
Although large gaps in the long evolutionary history of lampreys still exist, the discovery of Jurassic lamprey fossils is expected to promote more research in the future.
Fig. 2 Flesh-eating lampreys Yanliaomyzon from the Jurassic Yanliao Biota. a-e, Yanliaomyzon occisor; f-h, Yanliaomyzon ingensdentes"
Image: NICE Vistudio and IVPP.

Fig. 3 The teeth of the Jurassic lampreys Yanliaomyzon (a-d, Yanliaomyzon ingensdentes, specific name meaning ‘large teeth’; e, f, Yanliaomyzon occisor, specific name meaning ‘killer’) and those of the living pouched lamprey Geotria australis (g) now inhabits in Southern Hemisphere
Image: NICE Vistudio and IVPP.
More technical detail is given in the open access paper in Nature Communications:

Lampreys, one of two living lineages of jawless vertebrates, are always intriguing for their feeding behavior via the toothed suctorial disc and life cycle comprising the ammocoete, metamorphic, and adult stages. However, they left a meager fossil record, and their evolutionary history remains elusive. Here we report two superbly preserved large lampreys from the Middle-Late Jurassic Yanliao Biota of North China and update the interpretations of the evolution of the feeding apparatus, the life cycle, and the historic biogeography of the group. These fossil lampreys’ extensively toothed feeding apparatus differs radically from that of their Paleozoic kin but surprisingly resembles the Southern Hemisphere pouched lamprey, which foreshadows an ancestral flesh-eating habit for modern lampreys. Based on the revised petromyzontiform timetree, we argued that modern lampreys’ three-staged life cycle might not be established until the Jurassic when they evolved enhanced feeding structures, increased body size and encountered more penetrable host groups. Our study also places modern lampreys’ origin in the Southern Hemisphere of the Late Cretaceous, followed by an early Cenozoic anti-tropical disjunction in distribution, hence challenging the conventional wisdom of their biogeographical pattern arising from a post-Cretaceous origin in the Northern Hemisphere or the Pangean fragmentation in the Early Mesozoic.


As a lineage of the living jawless vertebrates, lampreys have great weight in the study of vertebrate evolution1,2,3,4,5. They are characterized by their peculiar feeding behavior of eating blood or cutting off tissues from the hosts or prey to which they firmly attach via their toothed oral sucker6,7. In such a way, lampreys play a significant role in the aquatic ecosystem and, in some cases, where they are non-native, even bring tremendous loss to the fishery economy4. These jawless fishes have been in existence for ca. 360 million years but left an extremely patchy fossil record in the post-Carboniferous period, with only two species known from the Cretaceous2,3,8,9. Despite the superficially conservative morphology throughout their history, from the simply assembled teeth in Paleozoic fossils, lampreys’ feeding apparatus, especially the size, shape and arrangement of the keratinous teeth, was substantially reformed and enhanced to the pattern of modern species2,3,6,7,9,10,11,12. And evidently, departing from their Paleozoic kin with non-ammocoete larvae and expanding the habitats to the freshwater domain, lampreys changed the life-history strategy some time before the Cretaceous by evolving the ammocoete and metamorphic stages3,9,13,14,15. Eventually, they established their current diversity and anti-tropical distribution5,16. However, these scenarios were poorly understood due to the lack of reliable fossil record and the disputed lamprey phylogeny, especially that of the crown-group lineages1,2,3,4,5,16. Here we shed light on these issues by reporting two lampreys from the Jurassic terrestrial fossil Lagerstätte Yanliao Biota of North China17. These fossil lampreys were exquisitely preserved with a complete suite of feeding structures, including the well-developed movable biting plates on the tongue-like piston, which has never been clearly recognized in previously known fossil lampreys and astonishingly resembles the pouched lamprey (Geotria australis12) now confined to the Southern Hemisphere. Bridging the recorded fossil and extant lampreys, these fossils offer an opportunity to reconstruct the evolutionary process and the ancestral state of modern lampreys’ feeding biology. As key constraints of the evolutionary timeline of its group, they also make it possible to assess the coevolutionary interactions with the potential hosts (or prey) and their implications for the establishment of the modern-type life-history mode. Also, based on the revised lamprey phylogeny, the early biogeographical history of modern lampreys was reconstructed and their ‘poles-apart’ distribution pattern was reinterpreted.
Fig. 3: Time-calibrated phylogeny of the cyclostomes and lampreys.
The timetree is the all-compatible consensus tree summarized from the Bayesian total-evidence dating analysis on the partitioned data (Supplementary Codes 1-3). The node ages in the tree are the posterior medians, and the error bars at the nodes denote the 95% highest posterior density (HPD) intervals. The shade of each circle represents the posterior probability of the corresponding clade. The color of the branch represents the median relative evolutionary rate of the feeding mechanism characters at that branch. The median values of the relative rates in some focal branches are shown in Supplementary Fig. 3. The oral disc and dentition were redrawn according to relevant literatures3, 9,10,11,12, 39. Abbreviations: C., Caspiomyzon; Cam., Cambrian; Carbon., Carboniferous; Dev., Devonian; En., Entosphenus; Eu., Eudontomyzon; G., Geotria; I., Ichthyomyzon; La., Lampetra; Le., Lethenteron; M., Mordacia; Ord., Ordovician; P., Petromyzon; Perm., Permian; Sil., Silurian; T., Tetrapleurodon; Y., Yanliaomyzon.
Wu, F., Janvier, P. & Zhang, C.
The rise of predation in Jurassic lampreys.
Nat Commun 14, 6652 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-42251-0

Copyright: © 2023 The authors.
Published by Springer Nature Ltd. Open access.
Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0)
To summarise for any creationists, brave enough to have read this far:

Large parasitic, carnivorous lamprey, the designer of which can only be described as a malevolent sadist, were living in Earth's oceans 160 million year ago, i.e., almost 160 million years before Earth existed!

The traditional excuse for these examples of natural nasties is for creationists to try to absolve their putative designer who, whilst being the only supernatural entity capable of designing living things, never-the-less, never designed parasites. They were designed by 'Sin' which magically changed from a verb to a material entity also capable of designing things, but not for another 160 million years, shortly after the Universe was created and a pair of humans magically created without ancestors, by a perfect, omniscient designer, failed to behave as expected, and this somehow gave rise to another creator that their omnipotent creator is powerless to control.

Well, that's the sort of childish nonsense you need to believe, if you want to be a creationist.

You also need to pretend facts like those reported in this paper are not real for a number of reasons. The usual ones are; the scientists lied; the scientists got the dates wrong because they used a flawed dating technique. They didn't know that radioactive decay rates changed so dramatically in 10,000 years that they make 10,000 years look like hundreds of millions of years, without any change in the weak and strong nuclear forces that determine radioactive decay rates, because that would mean atoms couldn't exist when the Universe was created, finely tuned for life. Again, the sort of mental gymnastics you need to perform to be a creationist in the face of so much evidence that creationism is just a childish superstition that no honest, scientifically literate person can take seriously.

Thank you for sharing!

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1 comment :

  1. Lampreys are disgusting organisms which only a sick, disgusting being would create. Malevolent in every way. These Devilish creatures existed 160 million years ago in the Jurassic period and not the 6000 to 10,000 years which the creationists claim. And no, Adam and Eve did not make these creatures to be the repulsive, parasitic predatory monsters that they are. They were disgusting, predatory parasitic monsters since the time of the Dinosaurs. No need for Original Sin and no need for The Fall to account for such a disgusting, Devilish organism. The creator made them that way .
    There's no way that such a horrifying animal is the work of a loving, merciful, omnibenevolent creator. No way, no how. Only a demented, malevolent being would create such monsters.


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