There can be few livelier, and sometimes acrimonious, areas in palaeontology than the Cambrian ‘explosion’, and the debates that accompany the evidence for a sudden irruption of animal life about 550 million years ago. Oddly enough, to some investigators this event is little more than a figment of our imagination, at least in terms of evolution. From this perspective there is an ‘explosion’, but it is one of fossils and simply the result of the sudden removal of taphonomic barriers otherwise unconducive to fossilization. The view of what is effectively the opposite camp is that to the first approximation what...

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