Scientists seek to crack an evolutionary code.
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“Big bang” isn’t just an astronomy term. Biologists use it when describing the rise of life on Earth, too: Dozens of modern animal groups evolved in a relatively short time frame in the early Cambrian period, between 540 million and 520 million years ago. And according to a new Australian study on the subject, this biological “big bang” actually fits quite well with what we already know about the processes of evolution.
This big bang event has perplexed science for over a century. Michael Lee, University of Adelaide biologist and the study’s lead author, noted that researchers in his field call it “Darwin’s Dilemma,” because natural-selection pioneer Charles Darwin had said that the emergence of so many species in so little time seemed to be at odds with evolution as he understood it. Opponents of evolutionary theory have even used this big bang event as evidence for intelligent design or creationism.