Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ida: The Missing Link?

So, this 47 million year old fossil from the Eocene Era was recently discovered in Germany. Darwinius Masilae or Ida as it's affectionately being called is amazingly complete (95%) and is being hailed as the "Holy Grail" by some scientists.

The lemur-like skeleton features primate-like characteristics, including grasping hands, opposable thumbs, clawless digits with nails, and relatively short limbs.

"This specimen looks like a really early fossil monkey that belongs to the group that includes us one of the important branching points on the evolutionary tree but it's not the only branching point."
[Biological Anthropologist Brian Richmond]

Or to put it more clearly, a missing link between higher primates (ie monkeys) and their more distant distant cousins (ie lemurs and such)

As is the S.O.P. for science, their is some disagreement about just how significant this discovery is. Some are saying that it's more of a "third cousin twice removed" than any sort of direct ancestor.

And predicatively the reactionary right perceives this, as well as any other evolutionary discovery, as threatening to their world view. Check out this Freeper article (and the comments below if you want a laugh)

Here's another righty website that says more or less the same thing. And quotes something called the Institute for Creation Research. LOL!

National Geographic Story

So I guess the ultimate implications of this discovery remain to seen and will most likely fall somewhere between missing link and media hoax.

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