Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Missing Link" media coverage went amiss.(Inside Track)(Brief article).

Holiday 2008

SUE, originally uploaded by housegirl_photos.

"Fossil Ida: extraordinary find is 'missing link' in human evolution," ran the Guardian headline on May 19. The media was abuzz with excitement over the find. As the website of New Scientist magazine pointed out, even "Google's homepage evolved, incorporating an image of the new fossil--nicknamed Ida--into the company's logo."

The New Scientist article, entitled "Why Ida fossil is not the missing link," brought things back down to earth: "Now that the first description of the fossil has been published, the task of sifting through the massive public relations campaign to understand the true significance of the new fossil can begin." New Scientist goes on to ask: "What does Ida's anatomy tell us about her place on the family tree of humans and other primates? The fact that she retains primitive features that commonly occurred among all early primates, such as simple incisors rather than a full-fledged toothcomb, indicates that Ida belongs somewhere closer to the base of the tree than living lemurs do. But this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of anthropoids--the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes--and humans. In order to establish that connection, Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and other early primates. Here, alas, Ida fails miserably."

So, in New Scientist's final analysis, while "Ida is a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of all known primates, the Eocene adapiforms," the fossil "is not a 'missing link'--at least not between anthropoids and more primitive primates. Further study may reveal her to be a missing link between other species of Eocene adapiforms, but this hardly solidifies her status as the 'eighth wonder of the world.'"

Source Citation
"'Missing Link' media coverage went amiss." The New American 22 June 2009: 7. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 Dec. 2009. .

Gale Document Number:A202253115

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