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#1910659
Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution

Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.

The missing link fossil

This 95%-complete 'lemur monkey' is described as the "eighth wonder of the world"

The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years - but it was presented to the world today at a special news conference in New York.

The discovery of the 95%-complete 'lemur monkey' - dubbed Ida - is described by experts as the "eighth wonder of the world".

They say its impact on the world of palaeontology will be "somewhat like an asteroid falling down to Earth".

Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, and the then radical, outlandish ideas he came up with during his time aboard the Beagle.

Sir David Attenborough said Darwin "would have been thrilled" to have seen the fossil - and says it tells us who we are and where we came from.

Pictures From Atlantic Productions

"This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals. This is the one that connects us directly with them," he said.

"Now people can say 'okay we are primates, show us the link'. The link they would have said up to now is missing - well it's no longer missing."

A team of the world's leading fossil experts, led by Professor Jorn Hurum, of Norway's National History Museum, have been secretly researching the 1ft 9in-tall young female monkey for the past two years.

And now it has been transported to New York under high security, and unveiled to the world during the bicentenary of Darwin's birth.

Charles Darwin

Darwin caused storm with his theory

Later this month, it will be exhibited for one day only at the Natural History Museum in London before being returned to Oslo.

Scientists say Ida - squashed to the thickness of a beer mat by the immense passage of time - is the most complete primate fossil ever found.

With her human-like nails instead of claws, and opposable big toes, she is placed at the very root of human evolution when early primates first developed features that would eventually develop into our own.

Another important discovery is the shape of the talus bone in her foot, which humans still have in their feet an incredible 70 million lifetimes later.

Ida was unearthed by an amateur fossil-hunter some 25 years ago in Messel pit, an ancient crater lake near Frankfurt, Germany, famous for its fossils.

This fossil is really a part of our history; this is part of our evolution, deep, deep back into the aeons of time, 47 million years ago.

Fossil expert Professor Jorn Hurum

She was cleaned and set in polyester resin - and incredibly, was hung on a mystery German collector's wall for 20 years.

Sky News sources say the owner had no idea of the unique fossil's significance, and simply admired it like a cherished Van Gogh or Picasso painting.

But in 2006, Ida came into the hands of private dealer Thomas Perner, who presented her to Prof Hurum at the annual Hamburg Fossil and Mineral Fair in Germany - a centre for the murky world of fossil-trading.

Prof Hurum said when he first saw the blueprint for evolution - the "most beautiful fossil worldwide" - he could not sleep for two days.

A home movie records the dramatic moment. "This is really something that the world has never seen before, this is a unique specimen, totally unique," he says, clearly emotional.

The missing link fossil

X-ray of Ida's badly fractured left wrist

He knew she should be saved for science rather than end up hidden from the world in a wealthy private collector's vault.

But the dealer's asking price was more than $1 million (£660,000) - ten times the amount even the rarest of fossils fetch on the black market.

Eventually, after six months of negotiations, he managed to raise the cash in Norway and brought Ida to Oslo.

Prof Hurum - who last summer dug up the fossil remains of a 50ft marine monster called Predator X from the permafrost on Svalbard, a Norwegian island close to the North Pole - then assembled a "dream team" of experts who worked in secret for two years.

They included palaeontologist Dr Jens Franzen, Dr Holly Smith, of the University of Michigan, and Philip Gingerich, president-elect of the US Paleontological Society.

Researchers could prove the fossil was genuine through X-rays, knowing it is impossible to fake the inner structure of a bone.

Through radiometric dating of Messel's volcanic rocks, they discovered Ida lived 47 million years ago in the Eocene period, when tropical forests stretched right to the poles, and South America was still drifting and had yet to make contact with North America.

This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals. This is the one that connects us directly with them.

Sir David Attenborough

During that period, the first whales, horses, bats and monkeys emerged, and the early primates branched into two groups - one group lived on mainly as lemurs, and the second developed into monkeys, apes and humans.

The experts concluded Ida was not simply a lemur but a 'lemur monkey', displaying a mixture of both groups, and therefore putting her at the very branch of the human line.

"When Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859, he said a lot about transitional species...and he said that will never be found, a transitional species, and his whole theory will be wrong, so he would be really happy to live today when we publish Ida," said Prof Hurum.

"This fossil is really a part of our history; this is part of our evolution, deep, deep back into the aeons of time, 47 million years ago.

"It's part of our evolution that's been hidden so far, it's been hidden because all the other specimens are so incomplete.

"They are so broken there's almost nothing to study and now this wonderful fossil appears and it makes the story so much easier to tell, so it's really a dream come true."

Up until now, the most famous fossil primate in the world has been Lucy, a 3.18-million-year-old hominid found in Ethiopia in 1974. She was then our earliest known ancestor, and only 40% complete.

Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known.

Bishop of Worcester's wife to Charles Darwin

But at 95% complete, Ida was so well preserved in the mud at the bottom of the volcanic lake, there is even evidence of her fur shadow and remains of her last meal.

From this they concluded she was a leaf and fruit eater, and probably lived in the trees around the lake.

The absence of a bacculum (penis bone) confirmed she was female, and her milk teeth put her age at about nine-months-old - in maturity, equivalent to a six-year-old human child.

This was the same age as Prof Hurum's daughter Ida, and he named the fossil after her.

The study is being published and put online today by the Public Library of Science, a leading academic journal with offices in Britain and the US.

Dr Hurum also found Predator X

Co-author of the scientific paper, Prof Gingerich, likens its importance to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, an ancient Egyptian artifact found in 1799, which allowed us to decipher hieroglyphic writing.

One clue to Ida's fate - and her remarkable preservation as our oldest ancestor - was her badly fractured left wrist.

The team believes this stopped her from climbing and she had to emerge from the trees to drink water from the 250-metre-deep lake.

They think she was overcome by carbon dioxide gas from the crater, and sunk to the bottom where she was preserved in the mud as a time capsule - and a snapshot of evolution.

But amazingly this final piece of Darwin's jigsaw was almost lost to science when German authorities tried to turn Messel into a massive landfill rubbish dump.

Eventually, after campaigning by Dr Franzen, the plans were rejected and the fossil-rich lake was designated a World Heritage Site.

But no doubt there would have been one person happy for the missing link to have remained hidden.

When Darwin famously told the Bishop of Worcester's wife about his theory of evolution, she remarked: "Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known."

Now, it certainly is.

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World- ... t_Ancestor


Ah ha! Proof, but my wife will still not believe it.
User avatar
By Suska
#1910742
*yawn*
neat...
could you pass the creamer?
...i don't understand why this is the link and all the others aren't...
User avatar
By Potemkin
#1910743
It's the link between modern primates and humans, Suska. :roll:
User avatar
By Suska
#1910756
my coffee is still more interesting, although... man David Attenborough is gettin OLD

so you say Ida is where monkeys and people were the same thing? Why does it have a tail... I want a tail...
User avatar
By Potemkin
#1910760
I want some tail too.... 8)
By Zyx
#1910875
Germany?

*supports the European Union*

Honestly, interesting stuff. Lemurs are so tiny, it's cool that they were a part of our ancestry.
User avatar
By Galoredk
#1910882
Interesting and great stuff. I am looking forward to alot of bizarre propaganda by creationists.
User avatar
By Kasu
#1910919
I don't understand the importance of it. I don't need the missing link to believe in evolution, I just need to look at a chimpanzee, and a human, that's all the proof I need.

Can someone explain?
By Zyx
#1910952
It's a link between lemurs and primates, not humans and monkeys.

It goes way, way back.

I don't get why it's in Germany, though. I guess the continents were in different areas, but what's Germany have to do with the evolution of humankind? How far did these prehistoric animals travel?
User avatar
By Potemkin
#1910954
I don't understand the importance of it. I don't need the missing link to believe in evolution, I just need to look at a chimpanzee, and a human, that's all the proof I need.

Can someone explain?

As Albert Einstein pointed out, our theories tell us what we can observe. You look at chimpanzees and at humans differently than, say, a Victorian would have looked at them, because of your knowledge of the theory of evolution. What is obvious after Darwin would not have been obvious before him.
User avatar
By dudekebm
#1910975
I'm guessing it's more of a missing link between primates and the other species of mammals (i.e. a point of divergence where primates became essentially primates). If we're looking at a common link between us and the great apes there is Sahelanthropus tchadensis which was a common answer before the Hominini tribe split into the Pan and Homo genuses.
User avatar
By MB.
#1911100
It's a really great fossil okay next?
User avatar
By Nets
#1911364
I don't understand the importance of it. I don't need the missing link to believe in evolution, I just need to look at a chimpanzee, and a human, that's all the proof I need.

Can someone explain?


Kasu, seemingly similar morphology does not automatically apply genetic descent.
User avatar
By Evangelicalism
#1911491
Someone find me the actual missing link, that definitive proof that a species can transform naturally into another species (by definition of species) through the process understood generally as "evolutionary theory".

I can tell you already from my schooling, no such "link" exists.

So your assertion that something seems to be like a link between primates and humans is ridiculous when we cannot even prove that a species can evolve into another species.
User avatar
By Swagman
#1911536
So your assertion that something seems to be like a link between primates and humans is ridiculous when we cannot even prove that a species can evolve into another species.


It's not as if they snap their fingers and change into a new species. The "link" maybe one advantageous mutation in tens of thousands of generations, and it's no more ridiculous that thinking that some guy with a long white beard sitting on a cloud waves a stick around to do the same thing :lol:
User avatar
By Galoredk
#1911645
So your assertion that something seems to be like a link between primates and humans is ridiculous when we cannot even prove that a species can evolve into another species.
Someone find me the actual missing link, that definitive proof that a species can transform naturally into another species (by definition of species) through the process understood generally as "evolutionary theory".

I can tell you already from my schooling, no such "link" exists.

So your assertion that something seems to be like a link between primates and humans is ridiculous when we cannot even prove that a species can evolve into another species.


It really aint that hard. Two ancestors of the Giraffe lives in what is today Africa. One splits and lives in the savanna while the other goes and live by the forrest. They both have X amount of offspring that need food to survive. Unfortunately for the savanna mammal leaves are hard to reach, so only a few of its offspring survive. The ones physically best capable of surviving. So over a few millions years of thsis shit going on, the modern Giraffe is on its way, since the animals that survived all had slightly longer necks.

It is just like you and your family. If you are born a total retard with an IQ of 50 your survivability chances are minimal. Thus you do not producre offspring and the genetic mutation is not passed on. One could argue that unless plastic surgeons existed, in a few thousand years women would have huge jugs, since they seem to be the most succesful in producing offspring. Alas this could be countered by human ingenouity.

Anyway I am sure you understand the idea. A missing link, is a fossil that represents a middle stage between two development steps. Not unlike todays Penguin, which seems to not be able to fly, but swim alot better even though it is a bird.
By Zyx
#1912114
Evangelicalism wrote:Someone find me the actual missing link, that definitive proof that a species can transform naturally into another species (by definition of species) through the process understood generally as "evolutionary theory".


This thread centers around this discovery.

During that period, the first whales, horses, bats and monkeys emerged, and the early primates branched into two groups - one group lived on mainly as lemurs, and the second developed into monkeys, apes and humans.
By Michaeluj
#1912201
FINALLY!! God, I SO hate that argument! :coffee:
By Spotacus
#1912221
Image

This picture proves creationism.
By Zyx
#1912228
No, it proves evolution.

Clearly, that's Jesus and he's a giant who somehow revived. Given that we are not giants and that we don't somehow revive, there's been a change in the species. Therefore, from recordable history until now, humans have become smaller and less long-living over time, so evolution, into people that are smaller and have shorter lives, occurred. QED.

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