295 Million Year Old Silk? Recent Discovery Could Be Problematic for Evolutionists

Caddisfly silk
Photo Credit: Nature.com

Christian scientists who believe in a young earth are citing the recent discovery of fossilized silk cocoons as evidence that many fossilized materials are much younger than evolutionists allege.

As previously reported, scientists have repeatedly been surprised by the discoveries of various delicate biomaterials that have supposedly remained intact for millions of years. These materials include shell proteins, ancient embryos, dinosaur skin, and dinosaur blood vessels.

Now scientists are puzzled by another material that purportedly survived millions of years: silk cocoons.

A team of Polish and Brazilian researchers published a study in the journal “Scientific Reports.” The researchers say they analyzed marine deposits in southern Brazil and identified “intriguing fossils” that appear to be larval cases constructed by caddisflies.

“Caddisflies (Trichoptera) are small, cosmopolitan insects closely related to the Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies),” the researchers note. “Most caddisflies construct protective cases during their larval development.”

Caddisfly larvae make their protective cases, or cocoons, using secreted silk. The researchers were surprised to find a collection of these cocoons in Brazilian marine deposits that reportedly date back to the Early Permian era, or 295 million years ago.

“The cases are primarily composed of whitish, transversely arranged and tightly joined together thin strips,” the researchers report. “In some instances, however, the cases may be completely disintegrated in the form of isolated strips chaotically scattered on the bedding plane. The strips form the main part of the cases and presumably represent the fossilized remnants of the silk material used by the larvae for case construction.”

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The cases found in the marine layer were all 0.5-2.0 inches long, and many of the cases had plant fragments attached to them.

In their journal article, the researchers attempt to make sense of this discovery through an evolutionary paradigm, saying caddisfly larvae must have learned how to construct silk cases “at the very beginning of their evolution in marine environments.”

“As these caddisfly-like larval cases are the oldest reported so far and come from a marine palaeoenvironment of the Gondwanan sector of the Pangea supercontinent, they would not only push back the fossil record of true caddisflies, but also shed a new light on ecology and behaviour at their very early stages of evolution,” the researchers wrote.

Brian Thomas, Science Writer for the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), says this discovery actually poses a significant challenge to evolutionists for two reasons. First, it shows that caddisflies experienced negligible evolutionary development during millions and millions of years.

“It looks like ancient caddisfly larvae took exactly the same approach to underwater home construction as their living versions,” Thomas wrote in an article published on the ICR website last week. “If so, then how did these creatures manage to resist evolutionary changes over 295 million supposed years?”

Furthermore, Thomas noted, the silk discovered by the researchers would have trouble surviving for nearly 300 million years.

“Decay experiments show that proteins do not last one million years,” he pointed out. “If future research confirms these white caddisfly larvae casings as original silk proteins, then scientists set on conventional age assignments will face a new challenge explaining how actual strands of delicate silk could last almost 300 million years.”


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