Edie Acaran

Humans used to think they were what evolution, and the Universe itself, had been aiming at all along. Some still do. It seems that a certain Ediacaran fossil from the late Precambrian (around 550 million years ago) had much the same view of herself . . .

They call me Edie Acaran. Evolution stops with me.
I am the very pinnacle of the evolutionary tree.
Not like my ancient forebears: they thought they were cool cats,
But the best that they came up with were mere microbial mats –
Bacteria just divide their cells, but that is so passé.
But fortunately my ancestors evolved a better way:
I reproduce by stolons. It’s the only way, you know,
To move around the sea-bed on the sediments below.

I have a frond and holdfast, and a stalk to join the two:
A multicellular marvel, the newest of the new!
My holdfast brings me minerals* from the rock it’s stuck me to;
And my frond has so much surface that nutrients permeate through*.
My Universe is water. There’s nothing else, it’s clear.
Whichever way I turn my frond, it’s water, far and near.
Yes, evolution stops here. I am perfect, top to toe.
My body plan’s so complex, there’s nowhere else to go . . .

* Possibly . . .

[Image of Charniodiscus on Australian stamp: Universal Postal Union]
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