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Fossil discovery helps bridge gap between Ediacaran animals & those from the Cambrian

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  • Fossil discovery helps bridge gap between Ediacaran animals & those from the Cambrian

    Researchers have just finished their analysis of an organism known as Namacalathus hermanastes that lived between 549 and 542 mya (Late Ediacaran), that was found in the Nama Group of central and southern Namibia in Southern Africa, which has allowed them to trace the ancestry of some of the world's earliest animals further back than ever before and helps to further unravel a mystery concerning the origins of early animals that had vexed Darwin and became known as "Darwin's dilemma."

    Until recently, not much was known about the origins of animals that evolved during the so-called "Cambrian Explosion" because of a lack of well-preserved fossils from that period, but the first three-dimensional preservation of soft tissue has established a strong evolutionary link between early Cambrian metazoans and one of their early ancestors from the Ediacaran (the pre-Cambrian geological period spanning some 94 million years from the end of the Cryogenian Period roughly 635 mya).

    Prior to this new study conducted primarily by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, it was a difficult task to trace the links with earlier animals because their soft tissues (which provide vital details concerning an organisms ancestry) nearly always break down over time, especially when dealing with creatures this far back in time. But thanks to an x-ray imaging analysis of some remarkably well preserved soft tissues embedded in some iron pyrite (commonly known as "fool's gold"), the research team was able to compare them with those inside animals that evolved later in an attempt to establish any phylogenetic relationships of Namacalathus

    And this analysis has revealed that Namacalathus is an ancestor of some types of molluscs and worms that later evolved during the Cambrian.



    Source: Paleontologists Find Evolutionary Link between Ediacaran and Early Cambrian Multicellular Animals


    Paleontologists have described the first three-dimensional preservation of soft tissue in Namacalathus hermanastes, a skeletal metazoan (multicellular animal) that lived some 547 million years ago (Ediacaran period) in what is now Namibia, and established a strong evolutionary link between Ediacaran and early Cambrian metazoans.


    Until recently, little was known about the origins of animals that evolved during the Cambrian explosion event because of a lack of well-preserved fossil evidence.

    The mysterious origins of animals that evolved at this time baffled 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin. It is often referred to as Darwin’s dilemma.

    Prior to the new study, it had proven difficult to trace links with earlier animals because their soft tissues — which provide vital clues about the animals’ ancestry — almost always break down over time.

    During fieldwork in Namibia, University of Edinburgh’s Professor Rachel Wood and colleagues unearthed the well-preserved fossilized remains of Namacalathus hermanastes.

    Using an X-ray imaging technique, they found some of the animals’ soft tissues immaculately preserved inside the fossils by a metallic mineral called pyrite.

    Until now, paleontologists had only ever identified skeletal remains of Namacalathus hermanastes.


    image_3419-Namacalathus.jpg
    Reconstruction of the living Namacalathus: 1 - stem; 2 - parental cup; 3 - daughter cups; 4 - hollow ciliated tentacles;
    5 - spines; 6 - lateral lumen; 7 - central opening; 8 - inner skeletal layer, foliated with columnar microlamellar inflections;
    9 - internal (middle) skeletal later, organic rich; 10 - external outer skeletal layer, foliated with columnar skeletal inflections.


    Professor Wood and co-authors then examined the soft tissues of the Ediacaran animal and compared them with those in animals that evolved later.

    They found that Namacalathus hermanastes was an early ancestor of species that appeared during the Cambrian explosion. Among them are types of prehistoric worms and mollusks.

    “These are exceptional fossils, which give us a glimpse into the biological affinity of some of the oldest animals,” Professor Wood said.

    “They help us trace the roots of the Cambrian explosion and the origin of modern animal groups.”

    “Such preservation opens up many new avenues of research into the history of life which was previously not possible.”

    The study was published in the journal Science Advances.



    Source

    © Copyright Original Source




    You can read the entire paper, Ediacaran metazoan reveals lophotrochozoan affinity and deepens root of Cambrian Explosion, by clicking on the provided hyperlink, but here is the abstract:

    Abstract


    Through exceptional preservation, we establish a phylogenetic connection between Ediacaran and Cambrian metazoans. We describe the first three-dimensional, pyritized soft tissue in Namacalathus from the Ediacaran Nama Group, Namibia, which follows the underlying form of a stalked, cup-shaped, calcitic skeleton, with six radially arranged lobes projecting into an apical opening and lateral lumens. A thick body wall and probable J-shaped gut are present within the cup, and the middle layer of the often-spinose skeleton and skeletal pores are selectively pyritized, supporting an organic-rich composition and tripartite construction with possible sensory punctae. These features suggest a total group lophotrochozoan affinity. These morphological data support molecular phylogenies and demonstrates that the origin of modern lophotrochozoan phyla, and their ability to biomineralize, had deep roots in the Ediacaran.




    I'm always still in trouble again

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    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization thatís not the argument." --Tassman

  • #2
    Thank you for the reference!
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeareís Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
      Thank you for the reference!
      It might be useful for Lee to see it.

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization thatís not the argument." --Tassman

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
        Researchers have just finished their analysis of an organism known as Namacalathus hermanastes that lived between 549 and 542 mya (Late Ediacaran)...
        But extending the Cambrian explosion to the late Ediacaran by one or two organisms does not solve the problem of the diversification that occurred.

        Source: Debating Darwin's Doubt

        Moreover, as Meyer himself explains, even expanding the geological interval (from 10 to 25 million years, or more) does little to solve the relevant problems of new information and anatomical innovation...

        © Copyright Original Source



        Prior to this new study conducted primarily by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, it was a difficult task to trace the links with earlier animals because their soft tissues (which provide vital details concerning an organisms ancestry) nearly always break down over time, especially when dealing with creatures this far back in time.
        Source: Debating Darwin's Doubt

        Precambrian depositional environments actually provide more favorable settings for the preservation of fossils than those from the Cambrian period. As they write, “a revolutionary change in the sedimentary environment—from microbially stabilized sediments during the Ediacaran [late Precambrian] to biologically churned sediments as larger, more active animals appeared—occurred during the early Cambrian. Thus, the quality of fossil preservation in some settings may have actually declined from the Ediacaran to the Cambrian, the opposite of what has sometimes been claimed, yet we find a rich and widespread explosion of [Cambrian] fauna.”

        © Copyright Original Source


        And soft fossils are preserved in the Cambrian.

        But thanks to an x-ray imaging analysis of some remarkably well preserved soft tissues embedded in some iron pyrite (commonly known as "fool's gold"), the research team was able to compare them with those inside animals that evolved later in an attempt to establish any phylogenetic relationships of Namacalathus
        Did they mean this part of the paper?

        Source: Science Advances

        The pores or punctae may be homologous to those of similar size in brachiopods, extinct tommotiids, and microconchids, and to pseudopunctae in bryozoans, which house setae and other sensory structures.

        Source

        © Copyright Original Source


        It seems we are guessing, "may be homologous", not so definite as the claim in the abstract.

        Blessings,
        Lee

        "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
          But extending the Cambrian explosion to the late Ediacaran by one or two organisms does not solve the problem of the diversification that occurred.
          It does show that the claim by you are your buddies that Cambrian organisms didn't arise from any precursors from pre-Cambrian times is false.

          Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
          Source: Debating Darwin's Doubt

          Moreover, as Meyer himself explains, even expanding the geological interval (from 10 to 25 million years, or more) does little to solve the relevant problems of new information and anatomical innovation...

          © Copyright Original Source

          Myers is talking about how long the so-called "Cambrian explosion" lasted, since various experts have different opinions concerning its duration. Some argue for around 10-15 million years, others for 20-25 million years and a few argue for roughly 40 million and even that it was pretty much the entire Cambrian Period. So he is claiming it really doesn't matter how long it lasted.

          But this isn't about the Cambrian, but instead about precursors existing in the pre-Cambrian Ediacaran Period and how they are now shown to be the ancestors of some types of mollusks and worms that later evolved during the Cambrian. So Meyers' musings are totally irrelevant.

          Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
          Source: Debating Darwin's Doubt

          Precambrian depositional environments actually provide more favorable settings for the preservation of fossils than those from the Cambrian period. As they write, “a revolutionary change in the sedimentary environment—from microbially stabilized sediments during the Ediacaran [late Precambrian] to biologically churned sediments as larger, more active animals appeared—occurred during the early Cambrian. Thus, the quality of fossil preservation in some settings may have actually declined from the Ediacaran to the Cambrian, the opposite of what has sometimes been claimed, yet we find a rich and widespread explosion of [Cambrian] fauna.”

          © Copyright Original Source

          I'm not too sure that many would agree with that assessment and even if they did (and this isn't a gross misrepresentation of Valentine and Erwin's position like Myers commonly offers up of other people's work) an awful lot can happen to fossils over time, and the more time there is the more that can happen to them. This is why we find fewer and fewer fossilized remains the further back through time we go.

          Furthermore, most of the pre-Cambrian organisms discovered so far are of small, soft-bodied creatures, who's remains don't fossilize nearly as well or as often as those with hard bits (such as shells and bones), so even if conditions were better for fossilization if the creatures themselves are of a type that doesn't tend to fossilize very well, then you're just not going to have as many, even without accounting for the destructive passage of time.

          But even so, the last time I checked (which is a number of years ago) there were approximately 100 different types of genera and of course even more different types of species that have been discovered from the Ediacaran Period.

          ETA: A quick check indicates that currently there are at least 227 genera now known (it depends on how up to date that list is).

          Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
          And soft fossils are preserved in the Cambrian.
          day6dl8-797d9a47-a05d-4f19-8a1d-32d647c58d80.gif
          First. This is not about soft fossils (usually preserved as imprints) but fossilized soft tissue.

          Second. This is not about fossils from the Cambrian, but rather from the pre-Cambrian Ediacaran Period. You stubbornly keep mixing them up, time and time again. It is quite frustrating.

          Think of it this way, it's like if we are talking about events that took place during WWII and you kept interjecting events that occurred during the Vietnam War as taking place during WWII, it is safe to conclude that you haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about.

          So please. Stop it.

          Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
          Did they mean this part of the paper?

          Source: Science Advances

          The pores or punctae may be homologous to those of similar size in brachiopods, extinct tommotiids, and microconchids, and to pseudopunctae in bryozoans, which house setae and other sensory structures.

          Source

          © Copyright Original Source


          It seems we are guessing, "may be homologous", not so definite as the claim in the abstract.

          Blessings,
          Lee
          You may wish to go back and re-read the paper and what it says rather than just looking through it to cherry pick out a sentence that you think you can rip out of context to support your beliefs. And keep in mind scientists almost always use words like may and appear even when describing things with great certainty. But if you want something expressing more certainty I suggest this paragraph as an example

          The Entoprocta are an enigmatic monophyletic acoelomate group that occupies a phylogenetically basal position among lophotrochozoans, close to molluscs (30). Namacalathus displays some notable similarities with the entoprocts, including the goblet-shaped overall morphology (a body divided into distinct stalk and calyx), hexaradial symmetry, the position of both mouth and anus within the presumable tentacle collar, and bilateral buds emerging from frontal area of the parental individual. Hence, we are now able to reconstruct Namacalathus as a total group lophotrochozoan, capable of asexual budding with an organic-rich, foliated calcareous skeleton and an open, apical J- or U-shaped gastric cavity within the apical opening potentially accommodating a retractable collar of tentacles and with brood chambers around the lumens
          Last edited by rogue06; 01-13-2021, 06:27 PM.

          I'm always still in trouble again

          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization thatís not the argument." --Tassman

          Comment


          • #6
            The thing that impresses me about work like this is how people can look at something that, to me, looks like a deranged artichoke, and identify anatomical features that are shared with more familiar organisms. The impressive thing is that they seem to actually get it right. In cases where two modern groups are descended from a fossil ancestor, we can test these conclusions by looking for commonalities in the genes they express, and we find that anatomical features that are supposed to be derived from an ancestral organ will express the same sets of genes, confirming that they're homologous.

            It confirms unexpected findings, like sea urchins being bilaterians despite their exterior looking very radially symmetric.
            "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
              The thing that impresses me about work like this is how people can look at something that, to me, looks like a deranged artichoke, and identify anatomical features that are shared with more familiar organisms. The impressive thing is that they seem to actually get it right. In cases where two modern groups are descended from a fossil ancestor, we can test these conclusions by looking for commonalities in the genes they express, and we find that anatomical features that are supposed to be derived from an ancestral organ will express the same sets of genes, confirming that they're homologous.

              It confirms unexpected findings, like sea urchins being bilaterians despite their exterior looking very radially symmetric.
              Yeah, the reconstruction looks like a drunk and deranged special effects guy quickly slapped a bunch of stuff laying around the props department in order to make a monster for a low budget horror movie.

              And while there will certainly be those with doubts or disagree (there ALWAYS are, just like there are dissenters in a court case) this should lead the way to some really productive research in the next few years.

              I'm always still in trouble again

              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization thatís not the argument." --Tassman

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                It does show that the claim by you are your buddies that Cambrian organisms didn't arise from any precursors from pre-Cambrian times is false.
                Neither I nor they (I would say) would think that very significant. People can be mistaken, so then we see if that affects the force of their argument.

                So he is claiming it really doesn't matter how long it lasted.
                Or when the period of diversification started. The point here is that the major diversification occurred in a window of about 10 million years.

                Furthermore, most of the pre-Cambrian organisms discovered so far are of small, soft-bodied creatures, who's remains don't fossilize nearly as well or as often as those with hard bits (such as shells and bones), so even if conditions were better for fossilization if the creatures themselves are of a type that doesn't tend to fossilize very well, then you're just not going to have as many, even without accounting for the destructive passage of time.
                Certainly, but the point remains that there were better conditions for fossilizing soft body parts in the Ediacaran.

                First. This is not about soft fossils (usually preserved as imprints) but fossilized soft tissue.
                I don't know why you are making this distinction, surely if soft tissue can be preserved, then similarly soft fossils can be preserved similarly.

                Second. This is not about fossils from the Cambrian, but rather from the pre-Cambrian Ediacaran Period. You stubbornly keep mixing them up, time and time again.
                The point was that soft fossils are preserved in the Cambrian, so how much more likely is it that such can be preserved in the re-Cambrian? Given that the Ediacaran era had better conditions for preserving soft fossils.

                I suggest this paragraph as an example

                The Entoprocta are an enigmatic monophyletic acoelomate group that occupies a phylogenetically basal position among lophotrochozoans, close to molluscs (30). Namacalathus displays some notable similarities with the entoprocts, including the goblet-shaped overall morphology (a body divided into distinct stalk and calyx), hexaradial symmetry, the position of both mouth and anus within the presumable tentacle collar, and bilateral buds emerging from frontal area of the parental individual. Hence, we are now able to reconstruct Namacalathus as a total group lophotrochozoan, capable of asexual budding with an organic-rich, foliated calcareous skeleton and an open, apical J- or U-shaped gastric cavity within the apical opening potentially accommodating a retractable collar of tentacles and with brood chambers around the lumens
                But this is about morphology! The paper was supposed to be about the tissues:

                Source: Science News

                Professor Wood and co-authors then examined the soft tissues of the Ediacaran animal and compared them with those in animals that evolved later.

                Source

                © Copyright Original Source


                And morphological conclusions have been disputed, for example:

                Source: Evolution News

                Doubts first arose because Namacalathus is very dissimilar to any early lophotrochozoans (Zhuravlev et al. 2012), and because of its hexaradial symmetry (Warren et al. 2017), as all modern lophophorates have a bilateral symmetry.

                Source

                © Copyright Original Source


                Blessings,
                Lee
                "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                  Neither I nor they (I would say) would think that very significant. People can be mistaken, so then we see if that affects the force of their argument.


                  Or when the period of diversification started. The point here is that the major diversification occurred in a window of about 10 million years.


                  Certainly, but the point remains that there were better conditions for fossilizing soft body parts in the Ediacaran.


                  I don't know why you are making this distinction, surely if soft tissue can be preserved, then similarly soft fossils can be preserved similarly.


                  The point was that soft fossils are preserved in the Cambrian, so how much more likely is it that such can be preserved in the re-Cambrian? Given that the Ediacaran era had better conditions for preserving soft fossils.


                  But this is about morphology! The paper was supposed to be about the tissues:

                  Source: Science News

                  Professor Wood and co-authors then examined the soft tissues of the Ediacaran animal and compared them with those in animals that evolved later.

                  Source

                  © Copyright Original Source


                  And morphological conclusions have been disputed, for example:

                  Source: Evolution News

                  Doubts first arose because Namacalathus is very dissimilar to any early lophotrochozoans (Zhuravlev et al. 2012), and because of its hexaradial symmetry (Warren et al. 2017), as all modern lophophorates have a bilateral symmetry.

                  Source

                  © Copyright Original Source


                  Blessings,
                  Lee
                  I'm not going to waste my time again correcting someone who continues to rehash the same PRATTs over and over again and again much less repeatedly goes right back to that cesspit that is Evolution News for their information considering how nearly every time you've cited them we've shown you in minute detail where what they say has been wrong. Proverbs 26:11; cf. II Peters 2:22 springs to mind.

                  But I will throw you this bone... your citation of them has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this research that was just published. How do I know? Look at the date of their article.

                  I'm always still in trouble again

                  "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                  "Of course, human life begins at fertilization thatís not the argument." --Tassman

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                    But this is about morphology! The paper was supposed to be about the tissues:
                    How do you manage to have the brainpower to use a keyboard, but still say things that are this dumb?

                    What, exactly, do you think defines an organism's morphology if not its tissues?
                    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                      But I will throw you this bone... your citation of them has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this research that was just published. How do I know? Look at the date of their article.
                      It is relevant, because morphological arguments are old news. If they (or you) want to advance them, they will need to address points previously made.

                      Originally posted by TheLurch
                      What, exactly, do you think defines an organism's morphology if not its tissues?
                      Right, but the tissue level of examination is where they purportedly found new evidence. I would not think this was an obscure point!

                      "Professor Wood and co-authors then examined the soft tissues of the Ediacaran animal and compared them with those in animals that evolved later."

                      Blessings,
                      Lee
                      "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
                        How do you manage to have the brainpower to use a keyboard, but still say things that are this dumb?

                        What, exactly, do you think defines an organism's morphology if not its tissues?
                        Lee cites some more garbage from Evolution News that has nothing to do with this breakthrough discovery. Prior to the new study, all that we had was a bit of its "skeleton," consisting of high-magnesium calcite, but the discovery of soft tissue makes it far easier to trace the links between animals since it is in the soft tissues where we can really see evolutionary change and similarities. Things like the bones only reveal the most dramatic differences.

                        For example, experts are hard pressed to distinguish between a skull from a modern tiger from that of a skull from a modern lion. While they are both big cats, I think we both can agree that they are very different. And that difference is far more than just outward appearances.

                        Tigers are solitary hunters preferring to strike from ambush. Lions prefer to belong to a pride which usually go out together and run down prey (they are actually unusually social compared to other cats). The male lion rarely backs away from a conflict, whereas a tiger usually will.

                        Yet, looking at the skulls it takes an expert to tell them apart. IIRC, it is even a bit difficult to distinguish the rest of the body from skeletal remains as well even though tiger are usually stronger in the hind legs and lions usually stronger in the front legs. Lions can run considerably faster than a tigers can.

                        One other difference is that tigers have larger litters, averaging 2 to 4 cubs whereas lions average 1 to 2, but tigers nurse their cubs nearly twice as long. This isn't something that an examination of bones will reveal. If we weren't familiar with them because they are still alive today, if all we had were skeletonized remains from thousands to millions of years ago, there would be some debate over they were two different species.

                        So finding fossilized soft tissue has been a game changer and has allowed the researchers to identify linkages with other animals with far more certainty.







                        I'm always still in trouble again

                        "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                        "Of course, human life begins at fertilization thatís not the argument." --Tassman

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                          It does show that the claim by you are your buddies that Cambrian organisms didn't arise from any precursors from pre-Cambrian times is false.
                          Neither I nor they (I would say) would think that very significant. People can be mistaken, so then we see if that affects the force of their argument.
                          So that argument that you and your buddies have been using for decades suddenly becomes insignificant when contradicting evidence is found.

                          If a lack of pre-Cambrian precursors to Cambrian life was not very significant, why was it mentioned so often?
                          Jorge: Functional Complex Information is INFORMATION that is complex and functional.

                          mikewhitney: What if the speed of light changed when light is passing through water? ... I have 3 semesters of college Physics.

                          Mountain Man: First of all, the Bible is a fixed document.
                          Mountain Man: Ö this is how liberals argue these days, with labels instead of ideas.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                            Right, but the tissue level of examination is where they purportedly found new evidence. I would not think this was an obscure point!
                            Doubling down on a statement that shows you have absolutely no idea of what you're talking about is not a route to looking less stupid.
                            "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                              So finding fossilized soft tissue has been a game changer and has allowed the researchers to identify linkages with other animals with far more certainty.
                              But they don't sound very certain: "The pores or punctae may be homologous to those of similar size in brachiopods, extinct tommotiids, and microconchids, and to pseudopunctae in bryozoans, which house setae and other sensory structures."

                              Originally posted by Roy
                              If a lack of pre-Cambrian precursors to Cambrian life was not very significant, why was it mentioned so often?
                              In order to emphasize the significance of the diversification, I would guess. And finding one or two animals in the late Ediacaran that are pre-Cambrians animals does little to reduce that significance.

                              Blessings,
                              Lee
                              "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

                              Comment

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