Darwinius masillae

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Two plates of Darwinius masillae fossil

Darwinius masillae is the scientific name of a primate fossil discovered in 1983 and recently publicized. Dubbed "Ida," the fossil has been called the "Holy Grail of human evolution"[1] and the "Eighth wonder of the world." Hailed in the media as a "missing link," it actually bears little or no relation to human evolution.

Found in the Middle Eocene strata and dated at 47,000,000 years,[2] "Ida" appears to be an early lemur. Some evolutionists think it may be a possible ancestor of all primates, including humans. However, it is not the classic "missing link" between ape and man, which remains unfound.

The fossil is in remarkably good shape for its estimated age. Palaeontologist Jorn Hurum said that it is "the most complete fossil before human burial."[3]


Though recently hailed in the media as a missing link in human evolution, it is by inference and not by proof that "Ida" is viewed as significant in the human evolution debate. At most, it suggests to some that the line that gave rise to humans was from lemurs, not other primates.

However, even this is disputed among scientists. Evolutionists currently debate whether the ultimate ancestor of modern apes, monkeys, and men is from the tarsidae group (ancient primates ancestral to modern tarsiers) or adapidae (ancient primates ancestral to modern lemurs). While "Ida" suggests to some evolutionists that the tarsidae (lemur) group is the ancestor, paleontologist Tim White said "Lemur advocates will be delighted, but tarsier advocates will be underwhelmed."[4]

As "missing link"

"Ida's" only possible significance in the human evolution debate is that if it gave rise to later primates which then gave rise to man, then "Ida" is a very distant relative to man. As noted above, "Ida's" exact significance is debated hotly even among evolutionists.

External links


  1. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2009/05/19/2009-05-19_missing_link_found_fossil_of_47_millionyearold_primate_sheds_light_on_.html
  2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8057465.stm
  3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/may/19/fossil-ida-missing-link-discovery
  4. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124235632936122739.html