Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor - Ida, the Missing Link

The discovery of an incredibly well preserved 47 million year old fossil, Darwinius Massillae,  published last week all over the news, has been hailed by some as the definitive discovery of "the missing link of human evolution." One should always be cautious of such sweeping claims. The hype over human evolution might be a bit premature, since it is yet to be fully classified, and it may turn out not be one of our direct ancestors after all, but there is no doubt about the fact that the fossil itself, and whatever it ultimately tells us about evolution is certainly worth all our attention.

Although Ida is 47 million years old (yes, we know she is a girl), she is so incredibly well preserved that there are traces of her soft tissue and even the contents of her last meal. This amazing level of detail is allowing scientists to look back in time and figure out whether primates like Ida gave rise to the evolution of prosimians (the line to which modern lemurs belong) or to the evolution of anthropoids (the line to which modern monkeys, apes and humans belong).



Despite Attenborough's excitement, I'm sorry to say the jury is still out, so keep your eyes open for new developments on this story.

When I die, I'm going to try to leave an even better fossil! :)
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