Feature

Ida: Missing link found?

What the fossil of a 47-million-year-old monkey ancestor, <span style="font-style: italic;">Darwinius masillae</span>, can reveal about human evolution

Okay, Darwinists, feel free to take a victory lap, said Allahpundit in Hot Air. The American Museum of Natural History on Tuesday unveiled "Ida," a 47-million-year-old fossil of a baby monkey ancestor. Ida—more formally known as Darwinius masillae—is "a missing link, not necessarily the missing link, although insofar as it seems to confirm Darwin's speculation about transitional species, it's a huge coup for fans of Uncle Charlie."

Darwinius masillae is definitely an "awesome fossil," said University of Minnesota, Morris, biologist PZ Myers in Scienceblogs.com, but all the hype about how she's the missing link in human evolution is annoying. Ida is just one of many, many links in the evolution of humans—and chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys—so she isn't really "at all unique as a representative of the complex history of life on Earth."

Granted, the researchers over-hyped this find to get attention, said Thomas H. Maugh II and Tina Susman in the Los Angeles Times, but "the fossil is certainly a gem." Scientists have mostly pieced together the story of evolution using "fossilized skulls, jawbones, and the occasional foot." But the lemur-like Darwinius masillae was so well preserved when her remains settled into the bottom of a lake that we know what her last meal was—berries and a salad—so there's good reason to hope that studying her will fill gaps in our knowledge.

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