WE don’t know what to make of this yet, but the news is breaking out all over so we’ll mention it. The BBC reports: Scientists hail stunning fossil. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
The beautifully preserved remains of a 47-million-year-old, lemur-like creature have been unveiled in the US.
The preservation is so good, it is possible to see the outline of its fur and even traces of its last meal.
The fossil, nicknamed Ida, is claimed to be a “missing link” between today’s higher primates – monkeys, apes and humans – and more distant relatives.
But some independent experts, awaiting an opportunity to see the new fossil, are sceptical of the claim.
And they have been critical of the hype surrounding the presentation of Ida.
Let’s read on:
The investigation of the fossil’s significance was led by Jorn Hurum of the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway.
He said the fossil creature was “the closest thing we can get to a direct ancestor” and described the discovery as “a dream come true”.
The team concluded that she was not simply another lemur, but a new species. They have called her Darwinius masillae, to celebrate her place of origin and the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin.
Independent experts are keen to see the new fossil but somewhat sceptical of any claim that it could be “a missing link”.
Dr Henry Gee, a senior editor at the journal Nature, said the term itself was misleading and that the scientific community would need to evaluate its significance.
“It’s extremely nice to have a new find and it will be well-studied,” he said. But he added that it was not likely to be in the same league as major discoveries such as “Flores man” or feathered dinosaurs.
There’s more, so click over to the BBC and check it out. And if you want to see how the media can wildly hype things, check out this breathless report from Sky News: Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution . That “news” article is formatted almost as crazily as The Time Cube.
There appears to be a serious publication about this fossil in PLoS ONE: Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology.
Make of it what you will. We prefer to withhold judgment for a while.
Addendum: The Discovery Institute’s first reaction is pretty much what one would expect. They refer to those hyping the fossil as “atheists,” and then they nonchalantly dismiss the fossil as being meaningless, like Tiktaalik Archaeopteryx.
Follow-up post here: Creationist Reactions to “Darwinius Masillae”.
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