The lemur made famous
Ida is the most complete early primate fossil ever found, and scientists believe that she could be one of our earliest ancestors. She is a remarkable link between the first primates and modern humans and despite having lived 47 million years ago, her features show striking similarities to our own.
Darwin said a lot about transitional species and how they were missing from the geological record. And he said that if a transitional species is never found, his whole theory will be wrong. For the last fifty years, we've gained a deeper and deeper understanding of species that show transitions between large groups of mammals. Ida is very comparable to some of the most significant fossils that have been described like Lucy, the Neanderthals, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Archaeopteryx.
When I saw this photographs for the first time I couldn't sleep for two nights... Now we've got something that really tells us a part of our deep evolution just in the point where monkeys and apes are evolving, the group called haploid. And this is so deep down our own evolutionary tree that this will be the best specimen for many years for the understanding of it.
Ida's debut to the world was comprised of an astonishingly slick, multi-component media package—certainly the first of its kind. In addition to the press conference itself, Little, Brown, and Company released The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor, by Colin Tudge on Tuesday; a multimedia-rich website, RevealingTheLink.com, was launched; and a two-hour documentary will air on the History Channel, the BBC, and various stations in Germany and Norway next week. And for the first time in the History Channel's history, their television programming is timed with the release of a scientific paper: The paper published on Monday by Hurum's team in the open-source journal, PLoS ONE. While the scientific community is just beginning to determine Ida's significance on the evolutionary spectrum, her place in the zeitgeist is secured. ... Hurum wanted to subvert the system and take his story straight to the masses in a way that would appeal to the average person, especially kids.
Jørn Hurum with Michael Bloomberg and David Young
Jørn Harald Hurum is a vertebrate paleontologist and holds an Associate Professor position at the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo. ... Hurum is known as a popularizer of science with a high media profile. ... Some experts in the scientific community were critical of the 2009 media campaign Hurum orchestrated to publicize his find Darwinius masillae. ... Hurum's reputation was further tarnished when it turned out that the fossil was not a "Revolutionary Scientific Find That Will Change Everything," as he had claimed in his press release, and that some of the key scientific claims he had made for Darwinius masillae failed scientific scrutiny.
But making a success of the Ida specimen has required much more than simply good PR. It first needed a huge gamble on Hurum's part. He convinced the University of Oslo to buy the fossil — which had an asking price of $1m — based only on seeing three high quality photographs of it.
Sir David Frederick Attenborough is an English broadcaster and naturalist. ... He has explained that he feels the evidence all over the planet clearly shows evolution to be the best way to explain the diversity of life. ... In 2002 Attenborough joined an effort by leading clerics and scientists to oppose the inclusion of creationism in the curriculum of UK state-funded independent schools.
Ida was a lemur
Spot the difference. One is dead, the other alive.
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.
A 37-million-year-old fossil primate from Egypt moves a controversial German fossil known as Ida out of the human lineage.
The article on Darwinius published last year in the journal PLoS ONE ignores two decades of published research showing that similar fossils are actually strepsirrhines, the primate group that includes lemurs and lorises. ... Many lines of evidence indicate that Darwinius has nothing at all to do with human evolution.
Problem is, most of the coverage is done, and the public could be left with the impression that Ida is a rock-solid missing link in the human evolutionary chain.