A New Zoology

The Cambrian period as the "Polaric" era


The following passage is from Popplebaum, A New Zoology, pp.24-25:

The geologically oldest animal types are all oceanic, with a prevalence of hard-shelled forms. Brachiopods (lamp-shells), Echinoderms (sea-lilies), Molluscs, and Arthropods, among the latter the heavily armoured Crustaceans and Trilobites. At least, that is what the geological record has preserved. The less solid bodies of sponge and jellyfish-like creatures have left no traces, but there is no doubt they must have lived in abundance in the Cambrian epoch.

All these forms, hard-shelled or soft, give us the picture of a trance-consciousness, far extended in its reach, but as yet little awake. Here are some examples.

The jellyfish [note], in its radial symmetry and balanced suspension in the water, gives a marvellous picture of a primeval existence, completely embedded and embraced by harboring powers. Its interplay with the surroundings is perfect but there can be no awareness of this because the tool of the body lacks even a medial plane, a lack which is the sign of a consciousness without focus. Even the bodily substance of the jellyfish is mostly water.

The self-enclosure of the clam in its valves, the isolation of the Trilobite in its rigid armor, are a step above the relentless abandonment to the surrounding element. The first isolation of individuals from each other and from the water has been ventured.

But the individual is not yet provided with that other sign of real self-dependence, an inward skeleton which supports physical existence from within and gives a hold to the movement in the form of a scaffold for the muscles. All archaic animals are "without backbones", a really "telling" image. Their skeleton is outside, and limits the movements rather than furthers them, like the heavy armour of a medieval knight.

Invertebrate animals give us a visible image of the life conditions under which the human "spirit-germ" existed in the first period of the earth, which Rudolf Steiner [Occult Science, an Outline: Chapter 4] called the Polaric age. At that epoch, man's being was still protected and held by higher beings. He slept in their arms while other beings, less refraining, made the first strides on earth.[note]

note: there is no reference of Scyphozoa (jellyfish) from the Cambrian. All supposed Cambrian jellyfish have turne dout to be either pseudo-fossils or parts of opther organisms. True jellyfish did not appear until the Devonian, when there was sufficient plankton and nekton to support them. See also entry on Cambrian nekton. However, either types of Cnidara (Coelentrates), such as hydrozoa and primitive anthozoa, were certainly present.

note: according to Steiner and his followers man evolved as a spiritual being first, and the rest of the nature kingdoms emanated from him. I myself find this position a little ludicrious but am including it here for sake of completeness.

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page uploaded 17 December 1999, relocated, last modified 23 December 2001