The Missing Link - Worth The Hype?
by Robert Bazell

chief science correspondent

May 19, 2009

from DailyNightly Website

With great fanfare, New York's Mayor Bloomberg and others today unveiled a model of a 47-million-year-old fossil of a baby monkey-like creature at the American Museum of Natural History. The unveiling was part of a promotion effort by the History Channel and Little, Brown Book Group, which are producing a documentary and a book about the discovery.

There is no question that this is an important scientific finding. The fossil purchased by scientists at a market in Europe is exceptionally well preserved. But the documentary is titled "The Link - This Changes Everything," and the press kit for the event declares that reporters are about to "witness the most important find in 47 million years."

So I phoned Dr. Tim White at the University of California, Berkeley.


White is a renowned paleontologist who played a key role in the discovery of "Lucy," the first ape-like creature to stand erect and many other important findings about the evolution leading to humans.

"Three words," he said. "Over the top."

The people who promoted this event make a big deal out of the possible place this newly discovered fossil plays in the evolution leading to humans.


But if you read their actual scientific paper (Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany - Morphology and Paleobiology) in a respectable peer-reviewed scientific journal (from Plos-One Website) the scientists make no such claim.

The big question about this finding, White said,

"is whether it is the 'Mother of All Monkeys?' and that is not even resolved. With years of study the scientists will learn whether this is the creature that stands at the intersection of one group of primates that went on to be best represented by lemurs today or another group that went on to be chimps and humans. But they don't know yet."

The event organizers do seem to know, however, the potential value of hype.


Missing Link Found?

Scientists Unveil Fossil of 47 Million-Year-Old Primate, Darwinius Masillae
by Samantha Strong and Rich Schapiro
May 19, 2009

from NYDailyNews Website

The 47 million year old fossilized remains of a primate is seen at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.





Feast your eyes on what a group of scientists call the Holy Grail of human evolution.

A team of researchers Tuesday unveiled an almost perfectly intact fossil of a 47 million-year-old primate they say represents the long-sought missing link between humans and apes. Officially known as Darwinius masillae, the fossil of the lemur-like creature dubbed Ida shows it had opposable thumbs like humans and fingernails instead of claws.

Scientists say the cat-sized animal's hind legs offer evidence of evolutionary changes that led to primates standing upright - a breakthrough that could finally confirm Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

"This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists," lead scientist Jorn Hurum said at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.

"It is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail. This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years."

A team of amateur fossil hunters discovered the near-perfect remains inside a mile-wide crater outside of Frankfurt in 1983.

Experts believe the pit was a volcanic caldera where scores of animals from the Eocene epoch were killed and their remains were kept remarkably well-preserved.

Though the pit has been a bountiful source of other fossils, the inexperienced archeologists didn't realize the value of their find. Years later, the University of Oslo bought the 95%-intact fossil, and Hurum studied it in secret for two years.

His colleague, Jens Franzen, hailed the discovery as "the eighth wonder of the world."

"We're not dealing with our grand, grand, grandmother, but perhaps with our grand, grand, grand aunt," Franzen said.

The unveiling of the fossil came as part of a carefully-orchestrated publicity campaign unusual for scientific discoveries.

A History Channel film on the discovery will air next week. A book release and a slew of other documentaries will follow.





Purported “Missing Link” Found
by Bryan McAffee

May 19, 2009

from RightPundits Website

I guess someone had to post the obligatory missing link story. So, in case you did not hear, scientists have unveiled what they claim to be the fossil remains of a 47 million old skeleton that may explain the key link between early formed primates and modern Homo Sapiens. The remains has both non-human and human-like features which may provide key evidence that human beings evolved from earlier form of primate like being.


From the article:

It has, among other things, opposable thumbs, similar to humans’ and unlike those found on other modern mammals. It has fingernails instead of claws. And by examining the structure of its hind legs (one of which is partly missing), scientists say they can see evidence of evolutionary changes that would eventually lead to primates standing upright.

Okay, sounds convincing, but it sounds like there is some clear publicity going on as well.


One of the scientists states:

Ida is a direct human ancestor."

But he said he was comfortable with the publicity surrounding it.

”That’s part of getting science out to the public, to get attention,” he said. “I don’t think that’s so wrong.”

The only question I have is, if this find is so amazing, why did it take them 20 years to bring it to the public’s attention. The fossil was found in 1983. It sounds more to me like scientists looking for more grant money and publicity, but I could be wrong.

The whole evolution debate is very similar to the global warming one. Many want to claim that the “science is settled” and are so dogmatic that they don’t even wish to engage in discussion or actual science that might contradict their world view. Evolution is somewhat similar, however both sides are very dogmatic. If you want a good read about the dogmatism of Evolution I would recommend GK Chesteron’s article here.


Its a long read, but its funny and worth it. Among other points he makes he argues that the difference in man and beast is really a difference in type more then anything. If man did come from beast then the implication is that at some point a “person” was born which was no longer a beast and was fully human, even if this transition took millions of years to reach the magic point, which certainly could happen.


The other point he makes (which I appreciate) is that scientists are so interested in proving Darwin was right that they end up being at least as dogmatic as the craziest religious sect whom they scoff at. It is easy to reconcile Christianity with science... both are a matter of faith.

So, did evolution occur?


Personally I buy at least some form of evolution. I don’t know if we evolved from ape or not, but I do believe that if so, there is some intelligence that guided that evolution. I find nothing contradictory between Christanity/Judaism and evolution myself. I will say that it is at least as likely that our DNA was planted here by aliens as evolution occurred, at least there is about equal amounts of evidence to suggest either possibility.


In fact, Richard Dawkins (the famous atheist) find more evidence that that we are in fact descended by aliens than created by God, so that tells you a little about the evolutionists mindset right there.