Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ida May Not Be Related to Humans After All

The Guardian is reporting work being published in Nature suggesting that Ida is not on the line that gave rise to the higher primates. The story, by Ian Sample states:

"Our analysis and results have convinced us that Ida was not an ancestor of monkeys, apes, or humans, and if anything has more relevance for our understanding of lemur and loris origins," said Erik Seiffert, a fossil hunter at Stony Brook University in New York who led the Nature study.

Researchers behind the Ida fossil, known formally as Darwinius masillae, immediately defended their own interpretation, which is based on two years of meticulous measurements of the remains.

"We expected a challenge like this and it's interesting it has taken five months for the first attack to come," said Jørn Hurum, a palaeontologist at Oslo University's Natural History Museum where the fossil is now lodged. "What we claim about Ida is really quite controversial."

So controversial, in fact, that it might be wrong. Which ever way this one goes, it will be a classic example of science in action. Palaeoanthropologists have no vested interest in whether or not Ida is an ancestor to humans. This research will, however, provide us with a good example of a primate that was running around c. 50 million years ago. Hopefully, more discoveries will allow us to see how she fit into the grand scheme of things.

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  1. Good point about science in action. The point, though, will probably be lost on the creationists, who will be too busy saying, "Ha! I wasn't a missing link anyway!"

  2. I can almost see the printing presses at the ICR and AIG churning away.