Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ida, Narrower of Gaps

Yet again, science has forced the god-of-the-gaps to squeeze into an even smaller space, this time upon the discovery of an evolutionary antecedent to modern primates. Laelaps has an excellent summary together with discussion of the shoddy journalism announcing it:

Before I jump into my criticisms of the paper describing Darwinius masillae, Ida's scientific name, I do want to stress how spectacular the fossil really is. The primate fossil record is extremely fragmentary, and if you want to know anything about fossil primates you are going to have to know your teeth. That's usually all that is left of them. Ida, then, is a paleontologist's dream come true. Not only is it a complete specimen but parts of the primate's last meal were preserved inside its stomach and its body outline was marked by bacteria that fed on the decomposing carcass during fossilization. This is the first time a fossil primate has been found exhibiting such extraordinary preservation.
All this in a fossil dating back 47 million years! PZ Myers has more on this fantastic, if overhyped, finding.

1 comment:

Attract Prosperity said...

Very fascinating. I'm looking forward to the documentaries which this will spawn.