Monday, June 01, 2009

New Scientist Rains on Ida's Parade

An article in the New Scientist suggests that Ida is no sort of missing link at all and is not even on the path to later hominoids. They write:
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.

As if to demonstrate the point, they provide a nice cladogram.

If the truth be told, we probably won't know anything definitive about where Ida fits until we discover more finds from that time period. If Ida exists, others probably do as well.

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